Let me preface this post by saying that I *love* to see children in libraries. It gives me hope that not all of the new generation will grow up to be illiterate idiots. Teaching children to learn to love libraries while young is something that lasts their entire lives. I encourage everyone to bring their children to a library regularly and grow their love of learning and adventure.
On the flip side, while we generally welcome children, we don’t always welcome the absentee parenting that comes along with them. We are librarians, not social workers or daycare employees. We are not qualified to tend your children, other than to sit them down and provide storytime, craft-time, or some fun and games. While we welcome children of all ages, we do *not* welcome their behavioral problems, and for parents to expect the library to shut up and deal with whatever comes through the door – um, I think not. that’s what I have security for.
“I’m tired of hearing from librarians who don’t have kids about how kids should behave in the library.” If you’re one of the parents who can’t rein in their screaming, running-between-the-stacks-and-tearing-books-out kids, I’m sure you *are* tired of hearing from us. Tag is not a game for the library. Nor is cops & robbers, or whatever your kid is doing flying around on their skateboard. Screaming at the tops of their lungs? Vandalism? Fighting? Also not library activities. Libraries may be embracing a role as a community center, but that doesn’t mean that your crotchfruit have the right to vandalize it, fight in it, or generally be nuisances in it. If you wouldn’t let them do it in the mall or the grocery or in the hallways of their school, it’s also unacceptable in the library.
The Library (be it public or academic or what-have-you) – unless they have a specific day-care service, is not your personal daycare. Do not drop your children off and leave. Libraries are no safer than bus stops, and your kidlets are far more likely to stumble across some dirty porninator ‘doing his thing’ because of our net access. The very fact that you have to be told not to leave your children in a public venue full of strangers in today’s age makes me doubt your ability to be a parent. Other places are pretty nice about it, and I don’t deal with this much in an academic library. But I do promise you, if I find a child and they can’t point to you in their range of vision, I’m calling the po-po and Child Protective Services. Instead of vilifying me, you might thank me for my kind concern. Unless you were *hoping* your child would be kidnapped, if you’ve got one of the brats mentioned above.
I am not old, though I feel it sometimes. I remember my parents drilling good behavior into me and my siblings, especially if we were bound for public areas, and we were promised a mighty a$$-whupping if we got out of line. I can’t help but wonder if today’s permissive parenting with the yuppie take on “I want him to make his own decisions, he’s a person!” combined with the general reluctance to discipline is directly contributing to the behavior problems we’re seeing so much of. There are rarely consequences for poor behavior – teachers aren’t allowed to ‘fail’ children, everyone makes the team, every child is a unique, special snowflake. Rubbish.
I may not have children, but I’m the one who has to deal with your freshman kids who have never been told they can’t spell, or write, or form coherent arguments. These are the same kids who act out against professors in college classes because they were never disciplined for doing so in K-12. And parents don’t understand how a professor could possibly fail AngelBaby when high school teachers put up with crap and subpar work to keep their jobs and survive in a classroom of thirty-plus kids.
Adult life comes as a rude awakening to kids who are allowed to run rampant with no sense of right and wrong or of appropriate behavior. So yes, I will ask you to keep a rein on your kidlets or leave my library if they’re being extremely disruptive. Even in public libraries where children are always welcome, there is still some standard of behavior to observe. And you can condemn me for being a childless spinster – that’s fine, because when I look at what your loins have wrought, I thank my lucky stars.