Module 6: Allocated Library Space: How to make room for everyone

The public library where I work was renovated two years ago. During the renovation, the patrons made suggestions and helped to allocate the areas in the library. I don’t think they used the four spaces suggested by (Laerkes, 2016). Laerkes suggests that the public library should include a space for inspiration, learning, meeting and performing.

The space has a teen area, a children’s area, a quiet reading room, and an adult computer area. The adult computer area is right next to the teen area which makes for angry adult patrons. We frequently get complaints that the teens are too loud. We get about 50-60 teens after school, so every area becomes a teen area. They take over the quiet reading room, the community room, the teen area and outside on the patio. I refuse to let them hang out in the children’s area because they use profanity and then irate parents come complain to me about the teens.

I wish we had a space for inspiration. There is a wall the teens can write on in the teen area, but often their musing are not very inspiring. There are spaces for learning in the children’s area, adult area and teen area. There are also spaces for meeting and performing. We just don’t have enough room.

Now that we have this beautiful space how do we provide enough room for everyone? In the afternoon, we are at capacity. We feed the teens and kids which makes for a mess. The teens occupy all of the space and they have limited manners. They lean against the walls, sit on tables, and spread dirt on everything. The cleaning crew cleans, but that isn’t enough to hide the ware on the carpet, the dirt on the walls, and the stains on the floor.

I have created some systems to help everyone be happy in the allocated space. At 3:20 I go around the library and ask the adults if any of them would like a study room. I move the adult patrons into the study rooms. Once school lets out, I greet the teens at the door and direct them into the community room. In an effort to contain the mess, I have them eat in the community room. Then I walk around the library to check on the teens, keeping an eye on some of are transient patrons making sure they are not inappropriate around the youth. It is a balancing act.

The healing library information was amazing. It is an idea that I want to implement at the library. We get to know our patrons, and often I don’t know how to comfort those in the mist of difficult times. When patron’s experience a loss, it would be great to have a plan to assist them with their difficulties. To address some of the hunger issues with adult patrons, I have started a PB&J underground program. I smuggle sandwiches to patrons who are transient and hungry. I am afraid the library director is going to frown on my PB&J program. It is just so hard to feed all the kids and then have the hungry adults sitting there wishing they had food too.

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2 Comments

  1. Sounds like you are fighting the good fight in your library. You are recognizing the different needs, doing your best to accommodate everyone, and going beyond to help those who need it. I heard this on a radio show for kids last week when it was middle child day. Let the middle child know they are being seen and appreciated. I see you Toni! I appreciate you!
    Michelle

  2. Oh wow – the smuggling of sandwiches is noble work! I think you have the foundations for the four spaces in your location…perhaps it will take time and some change. Here’s the cool thing: everything you are doing and thinking about now will inform your future practice. 🙂

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