Thursday, August 1, 2013

Library management annoyance of the day

The staff is always annoyed that parents don’t stay in the children’s area with their kids, instead going off to use computers in the adult areas or to sit on the comfortable chairs by the entrance. Our library is located in a relatively poor area, and many of our patrons are not very educated. No one will say it out loud (actually, a couple of people would, but I try to avoid those people), but it’s clear that most people on staff think that Bad Parenting, endemic to ‘the kind of people who live in our community,’ is the problem, not anything about the library or anything the library can influence. However, I’m not convinced that this is the case. Here’s why:

 The children’s staff has also tried to make the children’s room kid-friendly, with weird furniture, kid-sized tables and chairs, and computers that are lower to the ground than anyone has ever seen. They’ve been very thorough about this, so much so that it’s not possible for most adults to sit at a table where their knees actually fit under in the children’s area. So of course they don’t choose to read or use computers there. I think in the minds of the administrators parents would suffer the tiny furniture because they would be actively engaged in reading or otherwise interacting with their kids, but for the families that spend hours at the library, that makes no sense. Even the best parent in that situation isn’t going to be involved with the child the whole time, and the moment they detach from their kids they have no aesthetic or comfort reasons for staying in the children’s area. Couldn’t we put some adult furniture in there so parents could keep an eye on their kids without sitting in a chair that is only a foot off the ground?

Add this to the long list of ‘Couldn’t anyone with a shred of common sense figure this out?’ issues at my library.

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