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First, some thought that I am in the school.  I am the public librarian--not
the school librarian.  We are having problems with students after school. The
high school is next door.

I want to thank all who have written offering suggestions and words of
encouragement regarding the gangs of unruly teens who invade the library
beginning at 2:35 each day.  I want to go on record stating that I do love my
library (at least until 2:35) & co-workers and do not want to leave.  Also,
my house is a ten minute walk to work so we do not need to have the expense
of owning a second car.

That said, most suggestions are for the library to get a video camera system.
 This was suggested about two years ago.  We even had a company come in and
wire up a free demo that disappeared within a week and was never mentioned
again.  There is concern in admin that the little darlings' rights would be
violated.  We are not permitted to even take a photo to use to pass around to
show other co-workers so that the kids who get thrown out during the
afternoon can't come back in after the day shift leaves at 5:30.  A few
offered the suggestion of placing a sign at the door stating that "For Safety
& Security reasons, activities inside the library may be videotaped and/or
photographed."  I am sending this suggestion on to admin.

Other people suggested that we limit the number of students in the library at
a time.  I did suggest this a year ago, but was told that the corner
mini-mart can do this because it is a private business.  We are a public,
taxpayer supported building and our policy states that we provide "free and
equal access to all."  My point, which nobody ever answers, is that if I grab
a bunch of friends and go hang out and cause a ruckus in the taxpayer
supported police station down the street, we'd be arrested.

Other people suggest that we prosecute prosecute prosecute.  However, admin
has made it clear that they will not support a staff member's decision to
prosecute a patron.  They will not deny us the opportunity, but they take the
position that we are not encouraged or disencouraged to do this.  If we
prosecute, we must do so as an individual--using our own time for court
dates, etc.  In fact, the night a middle schooler assaulted me, "someone" in
the library (a staff member) complained to admin that I should be reprimanded
for yelling out as I was being hit all alone in my isolated corner known as
the YA area.  It seems that I was too loud and "disturbed" the library.  (No,
I have no idea who dislikes me that much).

Also, as I said earlier, we may not touch a minor.  Even to detain one.  They
do what they do, walk out, and disappear into the dark.  And we are so
over-run & harassed that, to be honest, we can't recognize him 10 minutes
later anyway.  Only the police officer may detain and even then he cannot
touch first either.  We do have two off duty police officers in our library
during the worse time.  The kid who assaulted the police officer on Wednesday
night was arrested, as was the kid who started the fist fight on Thursday.
(In all, 16 kids have been arrested in the past 2 weeks).  These were the
single-handed results of one of our officers who has taken on the library as
his personal crusade.

Many suggested that we get the local media involved.  We are not permitted to
speak to the media under any circumstances about the library.  All press
releases come through the PR department after approval by the director.  I
guess concern for rights stops at the employee entrance.

One thing I did begin to do concerns telephone calls.  Many (of the worst)
kids come to me asking to use my desk phone to call home.  As of yesterday, I
created my own policy.  I made up little slips where the child must fill out
his full name, his parent's full name, the number being called, and the
reason.  Then I place the call.  After the kid leaves, I make a note of
description, clothes, etc.  This already made pay dirt the first night when
two kids who had filled out the slips were tossed out cussing all the way.  I
have their contact info, but was not given permission to call their parents.

Some suggested that we contact the school.  Let me tell you, the Public
School district here is a joke.  Teachers here have spoken to me with tears
of frustration streaming down their faces about parents who have the right to
fill out a form demanding that their child be placed into AP classes even
when they have not even passed the 4th grade proficiency tests.  AP teachers
are busy handling the same discipline problems we have with these kids. They
have kids reading at 2nd & 3rd grade levels in AP.  Good students who have
earned the placement are disheartened and angry and the classes are a waste.
Also, they have an early work release program.  All a kid has to do is "say"
he is looking for a job and he gets out before noon.  Then they come and hang
out in the library all day too.  We have called pupil services and the
principal and leave messages and our calls go unreturned.  Once, when I got
to speak to a person, I was asked, rudely, "what do you expect us to do about
it?"  We'd get more cooperation out of a rock.  So long as the kids aren't in
school causing problems, the school does not care where they are or what they
are doing.  I personally think that if the principal spent as much time
controlling his school and educating as he does putting up an ever-changing
display of trite little sayings and quotes on the front lawn sign, the whole
town would be better off.

I am glad my kids are grown.  I would not live here if I had little ones
coming up through the system.  But then, what do I know?  Like the rest of
our staff, I am just a hysterical woman.

Dawn Srades
Title: Bouncer & Moving Target

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