Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Maplewood Library Closes During After School Hours

The Maplewood Public Library in Maplewood, New Jersey, has decided to close its doors during the after school hours. The library board made this controversial decision after years of trying to handle the large crowd of often unruly middle school students.
The New York Times headline read, "Lock the Library! Rowdy Students Are Taking Over." The article went on to state, " Every afternoon at Maplewood Middle School’s final bell, dozens of students pour across Baker Street to the public library. Some study quietly. Others, library officials say, fight, urinate on the bathroom floor, scrawl graffiti on the walls, talk back to librarians or refuse to leave when asked. One recently threatened to burn down the branch library. Librarians call the police, sometimes twice a day.
As a result, starting on Jan. 16, the Maplewood Memorial Library will be closing its two buildings on weekdays from 2:45 to 5 p.m., until further notice."

It will be interesting to see what happens next, but this should be a wake-up call to everyone in Maplewood, and possibly everywhere, that something needs to be done about latch key children. Predictions: there will be much bemoaning of teens' worsening behaviour these days, and discussion of the rights of the teens and other patrons to use the library; further prediction - the problem will remain unless the parents and the town step in. Teens with nothing to do after school and no one to supervise them is the contributing factor here that will not go away. Is babysitting an appropriate use of library and librarians' time?

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