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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Feb 26, 2008

The Estherville Public Library has been forced to remind library patrons that children 7 years or younger must be accompanied by a parent of other caregiver. Older children are also expected to follow library rules.

The reason that library staff has had to enforce these rules is that some school children have been using the library, not as it was intended, as a center for enrichment and learning, but as a ‘stopover’ point between school and home. This has been a particular problem with the many school closings that we have had this winter.

It all boils down to one thing. A lot of people no longer respect the rights of others in a public library.

It wasn’t that many years ago that talking aloud in the library would land you a severe reprimand from a stern librarian. You know the type — that mean old lady with the horn-rim glasses on a cord who would scold you equally as severely for putting a book back in the wrong place. Well, maybe she HAD a good reason to scold you when the books were all out of place.

We seem to have gotten away from respecting the peace and sanctity of the library. Traditional libraries can and should take us back to the time when scholars studied among the marbled pillars of ancient Athens and Rome. We should approach libraries with the same sense of awe and wonder.

While libraries have grown beyond that sole purpose of a quiet place to study, with Internet and youth reading programs and activities, there are still quiet areas within the library. And they are intended to remain quiet.

Parents who have children stay in the library when school is not in session should consider the fact that library use should be the primary reason for them to be there. Libraries are not daycare centers, nor were they ever intended as such.

Parents need to remember that, and plan accordingly. If not, maybe instead of handing out library cards our libraries will have to start charging by the hour for daycare.