Shhh! You’re in the library!
Remember those words from when you were a kid? Well, they’re just as true today as they were then.
Unfortunately, inclement weather since the beginning of the year has led to a larger-than-normal number of youth at the Estherville Public Library. And, while the library always welcomes responsible patrons, unsupervised children who are using the library mainly as a place to stay when school is not session can disturb other library patrons.
That’s why Director of Library Services Carolyn Walz reminds parents that, while children who come to the library for education and enrichment are welcomed, the library is not a daycare center.
Walz is particularly concerned that parents need to be aware that library employees can’t keep track of their children. They’re already busy with their regular jobs.
“We expect them to make good use of their time here,” Walz said of children using the library. And, while the library is intended as an educational experience, said Walz, “It’s not a babysitting service.’
Walz noted a couple of incidents when children were going in and out of the library and disturbing other patrons. They were told that if they did not have any particular activity they were going to do in the library that they should leave.
Particularly distressing is when children may be in the library with no way to contact their parents. “They just don’t know what to do,” Walz said.
Middle-school students seem to be at the age where they have to use the library as a ‘stopover’ place between school and home.
“They’re the ones that seem to be caught in the middle of things,” Walz said.
Walz emphasizes that the library welcomes patrons — but she wants those patrons, regardless of their ages, to know that the library is a special place with a special purpose.
“We’re just trying to educate the public to the fact that we’re here but we’re here for a special purpose,” Walz said.
Following are some guidelines for parents to remember:
n All children 7 years or younger must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver when visiting the library. If a child is left unsupervised, the person responsible for that child will be informed of the safety policy. If the child is repeatedly left unattended, library privileges may be revoked.
n Children 8 to 12 may use the library unattended, subject to the rules and regulations of the library.
n Young people 13-17 are treated as adult users. However, they are still the legal responsibility of their parent or caregiver.
n Children will be expected to behave appropriately while in the library. Otherwise, they will be asked to leave.