“Libraries should not allow unaccompanied kids to stay in the library”.
I know that this was a discussion sentence suggested for debate in the weekly digest but I am opinionated so strongly that I want to just stop here.
In what other realm, what other discipline, what other work space could abandoning your child be a conceivable or debatable option? Perhaps if you are getting your car serviced you could just dump young Timmy on the big pile of tires in the mechanics yard, or pop him on ice at the fishmongers, or hand him to the cashier at Coles whilst you do a quick grocery shop.
From that which I have read and heard, public libraries seem to be in an a moment of flux. No longer are they giant rooms full of books and silence. Yet they are not quite Community Centres either. Child Care has never been mentioned.
Talking about access, how to treat special cases and what to do in emergencies is a fine and worthy consideration. And, yes, libraries should cater to children. But I think that children shouldn’t be left unattended anywhere that isn’t home, nursery or school. Sharee Cordes pointed out, in the comments below, that kids and teens need somewhere to go. I agree. But a teen sticking a fork into an electrical socket is not the fault of library staff.
The difficulty I have is that of assigning responsibility. Who is responsible if a child or teen injures themselves? Logic would state that the parent is responsible. The library will be sued.
I’d call the cops and child services if someone left a kid in my garden- why shouldn’t I do the same if someone leaves a kid in my library?