Thursday, February 4, 2010

What happens when we succeed?

One thing I often think about, is the fact that while many people say they want teenagers to hang out at the library, they are often unprepared for what happens when they actually do.

Such as what Boston Public is currently experiencing at one of their great new branches:

Trouble touches an urban oasis
Struggling to keep peace at new Mattapan library

Mattapan residents spent more than a decade pushing for a public library in their neighborhood, to be an intellectual hub amid the nail salons and corner stores and to help occupy young people who might otherwise stray to the streets. Last year, they got their wish, a sparkling, $17-million glass-and-marble building with an abundance of books, learning materials, and programming.

But they also got an unexpected problem: throngs of young people who have daily overwhelmed the library’s staff of eight and created a hot spot for trouble. There have been fights, thefts, and a host of problems inside and outside its doors. Police have stepped up foot patrols in the area and had officers inside the building, but a library meant as a haven has instead become a worry for some parents.

Public officials give a lot of lip service to community services for teens, but do they really think about what success looks like? And what comes next once you have built it and they have come? If your library is full of teens, how do you manage it? If your library is picked as a Teen Center, how will you prepare for success?

1 comment:

Sunshine said...

I used to work at BPL and this was an ongoing issue for a lot of branches, even downtown. I think the only thing we can do is continue to open our doors and be youth advocates. Sure I didn't get an MLS to break up fights or clean up after a sick kid, but those are all just parts of the job. At the end of the day we are still librarians and we're still helping teen whether it's helping them find books on how to play guitar or offering them a safe place to hang out.
-Danielle, ATL, MIll Creek