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Christian Zabriskie's picture

Working the Room

Would like to talk discipline and order in the room.

How do you keep your room humming, not quiet but at a dull roar, a tone and space that teens can work in, study in, socialize, in and be comfortable and safe in?

Easiest thing I have found is to be completely even-handed and nip problems in the bud before they get big. We can expect some noise but keeping it within reason is key. Nobody expects a YA room to be quiet these days but we owe something to the kids who want to come to the library to study and do research too.

Bigger problems work the same way too. If you break it up before it gets too crazy, move a kid to a different table or suggest that an older teen head out into the larger library for a bit, this can save you a lot of trouble down the line. I try to be both friendly and strict, informative and no-nonsense.

What works for you?

Marcos Martinez's picture

Christian, you make a good point about addressing a problem before it becomes to out of hand or crazy in the future. I think what you do is great and seems like it works. At our library, we have had several incidents with some of the teens hanging around. To this day, these groups of teens have been banned until further notice, unfortunately. The sad thing is that we don't have a designated teen space, yet, until we move into our new bldg. Plus, no activities are taking place, yet. At this moment I am coordinating a gaming event for teens, which is expected to run through the summer. I hope this will give the YAs a chance to socialize and release some of that stress/tension, and that our library will not be used as a battleground in the future.

How have you, or anyone, addressed a situation like this? How long should teens be banned from the library? Should they even?

-M

Christian Zabriskie's picture

Wow Marcos that is a tough one. Is it specific groups who are banned or is it all teens? What kinds of behaviors are getting them banned?

I feel like there is a place for banning, if kids are dealing drugs out of the library, have assaulted someone, are constantly harassing the opposite gender (and that is aggressively hassleing not standard teen flirting), threatening other kids, stealing stuff. Those are all grounds for a long term banning, weeks, months, or, if chronic, longer.

Kids who are just making some noise and generally being teens is harder. It almost sounds like you need to address some issues of your own library's expectations of what teen behavior will look like.

I am all for kicking kids out for the night if they are being a problem (read if youhave to tell them to stop doing the same disruptive behavior four times). I usually try to follow it up with "we'll try again tomorrow OK?".

Marcos Martinez's picture

It is a specific group of teens (about 8) who are banned for quite some time. Let me just say there were fists thrown, a broken tooth, puddle of blood in the elevator, and many bad words tossed around in and outside of the library (on a few separate occasions).

We have some tweens who have occasionally caused some disruption, but being able to work with them and suggest some things to do while they are here in the library is working well. These kids in particular are more receptive and better behaved in the library now that they are receiving positive attention from library staff.

Its a work in progress, and we will be ironing out all the details as we get closer to our move to the new library. I'll definitely remember your tips for the future, Christian. Thanks!

Christian Zabriskie's picture

Wow Marcos that is a tough one. Is it specific groups who are banned or is it all teens? What kinds of behaviors are getting them banned?

I feel like there is a place for banning, if kids are dealing drugs out of the library, have assaulted someone, are constantly harassing the opposite gender (and that is aggressively hassleing not standard teen flirting), threatening other kids, stealing stuff. Those are all grounds for a long term banning, weeks, months, or, if chronic, longer.

Kids who are just making some noise and generally being teens is harder. It almost sounds like you need to address some issues of your own library's expectations of what teen behavior will look like.

I am all for kicking kids out for the night if they are being a problem (read if youhave to tell them to stop doing the same disruptive behavior four times). I usually try to follow it up with "we'll try again tomorrow OK?".