Get Those Kids Outta My Library!

From across the pond comes this opinion piece from one Helen Martin, probably one of the stuffiest people I've ever read. Her problem is, at heart, a simple one. Apparently, they're letting kids come to the library. I mean, what next? Story time?

It seems to me quite unjust that well-behaved, adult library users who have already been subjected to the odious behaviour of little neds ruining their literary oasis, should now have to witness whole swathes of their library being handed over to the very people who should have been banned. "Oooh! You can't ban them!" squeal the do-gooders. "We need to engage them and turn their energies to productive use."

I'm guessing she probably isn't very pro library technology either:

In this new-style library, teenagers can chill out, play computer games, learn to make movies and relax in their own dedicated area. Naturally I have no objection to any of that, except that it should take place somewhere else – perhaps a community centre or a youth club.

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I was going to place this in the story, but I figured it'd be better suited as a comment.

In the article, she talks about going to the library as a child. I guess it was okay for her to go, but not today's children. And I have one question and this question comes from someone who used to be a kid:

When in the hell did it become a library only for adults?

Some books contain the machinery required to create and sustain universes. Tycho (Jerry Holkins) @ Penny Arcade

When in the hell did it become a library only for adults?

As soon as she became one.

Devil's advocate

I don't mind kids either, but there are a couple libraries I've been in where the kids were just out of control and destructive. Unfortunately, the administration wasn't taking proper steps to control the behavior. I prefer a quiet library, and I preferred a quiet library when I was a kid too. So I sort of see where she's coming from, even though she seems a bit too curmudgeony.

She has a point

Taking this article out of context does make her seem like quite the elitist library patron. Taken within the context of the trouble they have been having across the pond with teens destroying library property, she has a point. The problem there isn't that teens aren't going to the library, it is that they are going there to cause a public disturbance, in a public place that they are allowed to go. Perhaps encouraging anyone to use a library where the teens are running amok is a mistake. But putting in expensive equipment that is as likely to be destroyed as used, maybe isn't the right course of action. In a library that is struggling with having to call the police on their teen "patrons" maybe they should enforce the rules that we have so happily forsaken in many modern libraries such as no talking, silence is golden. It isn't wrong to ban someone who has proven they are not responsible enough to use the library.

That said, I am not advocating banning all teens from the premises, just the ones who are yanking the toilets out of the walls.

Check the Context

As has been reported previously in LISNews:
http://www.lisnews.org/node/29507
there has been a problem with youth mayhem in Scottish libraries. A reading of recent news articles would explain the author's motivation. Yes, the tone may be "over the top," but for patrons and employees who have been enduring the outrages a negative response to proposals to attract more young people via entertainment is to be expected. The writer is certainly not alone in holding the opinion that some activities are better suited to community centers.

The focus of the piece is on the behavior of "neds,' that is, hooligans. I see a distinction being made between children and well behaved teens and the ruffians who are trashing the libraries. Don't expand her harsh words directed at disruptive young patrons to include all young people. Technology does encompass much more than games and video. The writer's attitude to these uses of technology does not necessarily equate to an anti-technology viewpoint.

She Contradicts Herself

I don't think taking her words out of context is too difficult when she contradicts herself. She says, in one paragraph that teens who behave are welcome.

Fine. But what of this?

Anybody who gets his kicks from smashing up toilets, bursting in to meetings and causing so much trouble as to drive out other users, isn't suddenly going to turn over a new leaf because you redesign the library especially for them.

I'm going to guess that the library administration probably didn't have the punks in mind when they sat down to do some redesigning. They might have, and if they did, then they're stupid. I'm going to take a higher road though and say that creating an area for teens meant creating an area for those teens who behave.

Punk, asshat teens could give a tinker's damn about teen centre. They'll raise hell whether its there or not.

We all know that what this place really needs is Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones to pop by every so often and kick some ass. :)

Some books contain the machinery required to create and sustain universes. Tycho (Jerry Holkins) @ Penny Arcade

She's wrong!

Her column actually annoyed me a fair amount.

She's completely out of touch - things change. Her primary issue was with what libraries are in her view - and she's completely misinformed.

It's a shame attitudes like this still prevail.

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