Friday, 13 June 2014

Developing thoughts on libraries and citizenship

I dream of being able, one day, to apply for a Ramsay or a Reid scholarship from the State Library of
Victoria, and I think I've finally come up with a topic.  I've got until December this year to refine, it, too (if I want to apply for 2015).

I'd like to study how libraries in Australia and perhaps the US or UK (no harm in aiming high) deal with issues of security and the need to have security guards.

I mentioned when I first posted the Caitlin Moran quote that I felt it had some major implications for the library I'm at.  I'd really, really like this quote to be true of my library, but we're dealing with some major behavioural issues, and none of us have the requisite training to deal with the troublemakers as actual citizens (within their understanding of citizen, not the library manager's understanding, or the little old lady who wants the library quiet like it was in her day, or etc.

Yes, citizenship brings responsibilities, but I really don't think anyone has ever taught these kids, or modelled for them, the idea that swearing isn't considered polite in public places, or that they need to consider the wishes of others.  And we have neither the time, the skills, nor the authority to be the ones to teach them that (nor do we really want to).

So now we have a security guard.  And while I acknowledge that it's making things a little pleasanter for us, I hate it.  I hate the visual.  I hate what it's doing to a reputation for being welcoming that we have worked incredibly hard over the last four years to build.  And I hate that our reaction to these kids is just to throw them out.

So yeah.  I want to start thinking about whether going to some of the Melbourne libraries - Broadmeadows, Craigieburn, various other outer suburbs, perhaps some Western Sydney libraries - would give me some insights that could be used for us.  Long term project, obviously, but I think I'd have support from Management.

(Also, I really dislike the "customer/consumer" approach for libraries, and I do wonder if we'd do far better with a 'citizenship' approach.  More thoughts to be developed there.)

Because I really needed a new academicy task/goal.

No comments:

Post a Comment