For many, many years now, libraries have been grappling with trying to encourage teenagers into the library and to use our resources. Well we have the answer: Free Internet. And we also have a new problem: Now they are here what do we do with them?
One of the problems is that for a lot of these teens don’t seem to know how to behave in a public place. I don’t expect them to be quiet, but would a little common curtsey be that difficult?
Anyway Joann Ransom on her blog Library Matters has posted a description of a very unpleasant encounter. It illustrates some of the problems more and more of us are encountering. Below is the start of the post, and I encourage everyone to go read.
I will note though that I found her use of descriptions for the participants not helpful. It opens her up to being seen as racist, which I think is not the point, and detracts from the story.
We have been trying for as long as I can remember to attract teenagers into the library. Well we have done it. The library is the coolest gig in town and come 3pm the kids rush down from school. And its all for the internet, and the warmth, and its dry and, its seems just lately, its also a great place to punch hell out of other kids.
Take today for instance. 3 skinny white boys known to staff were quietly playing Risk, the board game, when 2 bros walked past. They abused our boys, shoved each other onto the board game and then each of the bros punched – yes punched – one of our boys in his face. At which point I was frantically summoned by 1 of the other boys.
When I challenged the bros, asking for their names, asking them to wait please while I ring the police because they have assaulted a library patron (yes I labelled it) I was turned on by 4 big girls, their sisters or friends or whatever. 15 or 16 years or so, full of attitude and lip: “oh leave them alone”, “they didn’t do anything”, “they are only little” blah blah blah. At which point I pulled a camera out and took their photograph before heading back to my office to call the Police. I was followed back inside and up the stairs to my office by a very confident young lady, hurling abuse, mouthing off at the boys who had been bullied, getting right in my face until I said loudly and clearly “this is intimidation – you need to leave now”.