Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What can I do?

Counting the hours until I can close the library tonight and begin our trek home for Thanksgiving.  For a three-day week, it seems to have dragged on for eternity.  The library hasn't been too busy, except for a bunch of kids after school.  I feel more like a babysitter than a librarian, watching YouTube videos over their shoulders from the circulation desk, making sure the videos are appropriate...for the public library as well as their age.  I asked a kid once to turn off a video of Spongebob dubbed with swear-words and questioned whether a kid who looked to be around 12 should be watching LMFAO's "I'm Sexy and I know it" music video.  But what is my responsibility here?  I'm not their teacher, I don't know who their parents are, but should I tell an 8-year old kid he can't watch WWF wrestling videos because they are too violent?  The poor kid isn't even wearing a coat in this 40 degree weather, and his nose is running.

Maybe it's just small-town life, but to me, it seems that a lot of children roam around town freely after school.  Maybe my parents were overly protective, but I get the feeling around here that a lot of parents don't really know where their kids are or what they are doing.  Most of the children that come in after school are alone.  Should I be glad that the library is a warm and safe place where they can hang out?  Maybe I don't know the whole situation, but I sometimes feel like there is a lot of neglect.

I know I was raised in an upper-middle class environment where most kids went to preschool and baby gymboree, and our parents drove us around to a different lesson or sports game every night of the week.  We got brand-new clothes when we wanted them and we always had an after-school snack.  I know it's naive to believe everyone was raised with ballet and horseback riding lessons, violin, and piano, and vacations every year.  I know that people aren't good parents just because they have money.  I don't have any kids, so I know my opinion doesn't count for much.  But it makes me sad when kids spend 3 hours alone after school at the library watching YouTube videos.

What more can I do as a librarian?  What more can I do for this community?  How can I use my loving and supportive upbringing, my education, and my gifts to help others?  Or am I being too judgmental?  Am I out-of-line, have I misunderstood?

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