Kids and Teens and Libraries, oh my

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      Rachel Kersley

      So, this week’s twitter chat was super fun and interesting, which is a pretty accurate description of all of our twitter chats this semester, really. What I think set it apart, though, is that there didn’t seem to be one main (sub)topic that ended up dominating the conversation – most weeks I feel like we end up zeroing in one part of the conversation and focusing on it for most of the chat, but this week everything seemed to get a pretty equal amount of attention. Unfortunately, while that’s cool in that everything was interesting to talk about, it does make it a little harder to condense the conversation, seeing as there’s no main topic to focus on.

      With that in mind, here’s what I learnt:

      • Unattended children in libraries are potentially a problem (though many of us were unattended children in libraries once upon a time and all we did was read). Whether or not the kids themselves are a problem, the library can’t guarantee their safety – the general consensus seems to be that if children are under 10 or 12 then should attempt to contact their caregivers, and if that doesn’t work, they should alert the authorities.
      • Kids deserve privacy too? Maybe? A lot of us think that kids have a right to privacy, while some worry about parents and caregivers needing to know what’s going on with their kids in order to be properly responsible.
      • We all liked the library as kids. That one’s a shocker, I know. We definitely all had different experiences, although reading teen/YA books as a child and feeling very daring or sneaky seems fairly common, raising the issue of ‘age appropriate’ books.
      • Holiday programs – so much more than free entertainment (but also free entertainment). We all had different specific ideas, but just about everyone threw out some benefits of library programs over the school holidays. There were also some complaints about less than stellar scheduling, in terms of when parents can actually take kids vs when programs are on.
      • Homework help is more divisive than you might think. Most of us are fully in favour of homework help at the library, but some of us were less enthused, mostly because of the practical issues – resources, time, and (especially!) staff.
      • Far too many awesome sounding teen/child programs to list here. Also some great links from @myleejoseph about services and programs, including SNAILS, which I’m really excited to look into.

      While the conversation didn’t really focus on any of these in particular, I really want to finish up by talking a bit more about kids and privacy. I fully believe that kids and teens have a right to privacy – and on a purely practical level, if parents invade that privacy then children will just work harder to keep it and stop sharing things with you. In that vein, I’m super on board with all of @crowbiteNS’s and @StaceySarasvati’s points on the need for privacy, especially for LGBTQA kids. Of course, as some of us mentioned in the chat – there’s potentially something of a difference between the opinions of parents and those of us without any children when it comes to this sort of question.

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