Thursday, January 04, 2007

Rowdy Kids Force Library Closure

Lock the Library! Rowdy Students Are Taking Over
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.

Generally speaking, this article seems to contain the NYT liberal bias (which is not unlike conservative bias) toward pro-natalism.. even if it is pronatalism in its latest stage. Even though the behaviors described are horrible, the tone seems to weep for those poor teenagers who have lost their literary afterschool hangout. For example, this gem from the article:
“If there are little kids making noise, it’s cute, and they can run around, it’s O.K.,” Ms. Braun said of standard library operating procedure. “Or if seniors with hearing difficulties are talking loudly, that’s accepted. But a teen who might talk loudly for a minute or two gets in trouble.”
It is funny that they bring this up - I would argue that in a library none of these behaviors are acceptable. This is not just my child-free bias talking. When visiting my parents, I attempted to study at the local library. (I typically inhabit the world's largest academic law library several hours per day) Several older gentlemen were talking loudly, when I asked them to quiet down, they protested that they were hard of hearing. All the more reason not to be having a conversation in a library - the paradigmatic example of a place of quiet.
Fortunately for me, the children were relegated to another section, into which I didn't dare to venture. But if teens (and seniors) are permitted to use a library as a place to hang out and talk, they are being provided a hangout at taxpayer expense - and at the expense of those looking for a place to study and read.
This is one more example of how our society pushes the needs of adults to the back burners. Instead of watching after their children, finding a better place for them to spend time, or campaigning for after-school programs, parents simply co-opt a place not meant for that use. And now, thanks to the inability to stop it, adults in this town are not just effectively, but completely denied a place to study. How long before we start pushing back?
The article mentions a town which banned unaccompanied minors under the age of 14 during after-school hours. Of course, similar measures have provoked lawsuits.

Has political correctness gone so far that obnoxious and disruptive teens must be allowed to overrun us?
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