Spring is in the air. Daffodils and forsythia are blooming. The annual run on children’s books about bunnies, eggs, birds, and seeds has begun. Spring cleaning is underway at the library – furniture is being rearranged and the dark corners of the craft closet were swept out this morning. Planning for the big Summer Reading Program is nearly done and the end of the school year approaches.
With spring comes another annual event, which I shall quaintly call, “the sap is rising.” Teens, who have been coming down to the library after school for months and were models of good behavior, are now running in the building. Shouting across the library, too. Or crowding the library lobby as they chat with their friends. Mostly, they aren’t bad kids; they just have too much energy for a quiet library.
So, we try to find a balance between a quiet library where grown-ups can get their work done and a welcoming place where the teens can hang out and socialize. We teeter between too loud, too crowded and rowdy and becoming stereotypical librarians who shush and have no sense of humor. It’s hard to achieve, this balance, but since libraries have reinvented themselves as community centers specializing in information and books it’s something we must strive for.
So the kids who are running, shouting, or practicing for Color Guard out front (and unfortunately blocking the entrance – again) we will ask again to slow down, pipe down, and move it to the garden in the back. Sometimes, they don’t listen. In that case they’ll get sent home with a letter explaining that their behavior in the library was unacceptable and they can’t come back until a staff member has a conversation with a parent or guardian. We’ve found, over the years that we can’t make kids behave, and we shouldn’t have to. A reminder to slow down is one thing, to discipline a child is another. So the letters are a reminder to parents that they must ensure their teenager behaves decently at the library. Coming down here and seeing the crowd of teens loitering outside, coming and going to Wildwood and CVS, and not a whit of studying being done is often a much needed eye opener too. The sap is rising and the kids are full of vigor. While we want they to use our resources and check out tons of book, they might be better off playing outside and burning off of bit of energy first.