Saturday, 4 February 2012

Unaccompanied Minors

Seen this post at the Australian blog

A mother drops off her three children, aged 5, 8 and 10 at the public library for 20 minutes while she goes shopping.  She tells a friend, who remonstrates with her about leaving the children with the library staff who are not child carers, and who were not informed of the situation.  Said mother blogs about it on  640-odd comments later, not a single person who identifies as a librarian wholeheartedly approves of the situation.  Many of those librarians point out liability issues, the realities of public library users (surely this isn't news?), and the fact that we've got policies about the age at which children are allowed to attend the library unaccompanied.

The OP, and Mia Freedman, publisher and proprietor of say things such as "it was only twenty minutes" and entirely ignore the comments of the library staff who have made their dislike of the situation pretty obvious.

Frustration ensues in your humble blogger.

Meanwhile, in the final few days of the school holidays, my own library has a sudden influx of underage minors not only spending from opening to closing (approximately nine hours) in the library, but these children spend what time they can wangle on the public computers (max 1 hour, but kids can and will play the change of staff on desk shift) on a "talk to strangers" website.

On Friday, when as far as I know every student, whether Victorian or New South Welsh should have been back at school, we had kids try to tell us that school didn't start until the "16th of February, miss!"

I don't entirely know what my frustration centres upon.  The lack of any actual library-related legislation in Victoria - unlike in NSW?  The fact that hundreds of commenters on a highly popular blogging site have decided that while teachers should be respected as professionals, librarians shouldn't?  The simple fact that for the past 20 months I've been dealing with the public at large, and that doing so is not the most edifying experience, even when it is a fundamentally educational experience?

I'm not entirely sure.

I suppose, in the end, what I want to say is this: please consider, before leaving any child unattended in a public library in Victoria, that it's really no different in legal terms, to leaving that child unattended in a public park.  If you wouldn't leave them there?  Don't leave them in a public library.

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