Library closed for digital natives

Yesterday, I wrote about how the Arlington County, Virginia public library was responding to the needs of their customers by discarding books that are not read.  Conversely, here is an article in the Washington Post about how the Maplewood, NJ public library is closing it’s doors (on purpose) right after school.  The article entitled “Lock the Library! Rowdy Students are Taking Over” begins:

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. “

The only solution to this “problem” that is mentioned in the article, which a library official says they have “struggled with  for over 10 years,”  is that the library required specific behavior guidelines in 2005.  I can’t help but wonder if the library considered a partnership with the school or set up an advisory committee composed of students to help deal with the problem, or a multitude of interventions (other than writing more rules) to deal with this perceived problem.  In the article, it explains the type of community where the library resides:

“This comfortable Essex County suburb of 23,000 residents,  still proud of its 2002 mention in Money magazine on a list of “Best Places to Live,” is no seedy outpost of urban violence.  But its library officials, like many across the country, have grown frustrated by middle schoolers’ mix of pent-up energy, hormones and nascent independence.   Increasingly, librarians are asking: What part of “Shh!” don’t you understand?”

Part of the mission of all libraries is to meet the needs of their customers who live in the community – at every age.  Closing the library closes the doors to many information opportunities for these students.  What will these young people now think about going to any library in the future?  Seems like one more reason for the digital natives to believe that they can get all the information they need on the Internet.

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