Blogger Alyson Feldman-Piltch

The Library Police

One of the things I love the most about my job is interacting with all of the kids that come in after school.   One of the things I dread most about my job, is interacting with all of the kids that come in after school.

When I first started in my system, I worked in a branch that had a Children’s Room where the door shut, a designated programming space, a designated teen space, AND a security guard.  Fast forward two years.  I’m at different branch, which is smaller when it comes to square-footage – not use or people.  With two schools in walking distance, we’re a major after school hub for all ages.  On Tuesdays we host the Community Chess Club, and Wednesdays it’s Daisies and Brownies.

Aside from the physical size, the other major difference is we do not have a security guard.  This means when it gets loud, or people start running or goofing off, I’m the individual that speaks with kids about behavior  Please don’t misunderstand me, I am very used to having the discussion about behavior and know it comes with the job, but lately I’ve been feeling like all I am is the Library Police.

I’m lucky that I am surrounded by an aide staff  and a supervisor that support me, and that we are all on the same page when it comes to behavior in the building, but I still can’t shake that feeling that I’m spending most of my time after school politely asking people not to run or play hide and seek in the stacks, to please use inside voices, not to film videos for Snapchat, and not to eat. I try to offer alternatives instead, but I’m not always able to, whether it be because I’m helping a patron or whatnot.  Plus, we have a whole spectrum of passive activities for kids to do in our little space.

I want to know if anyone else has felt like or does feel like the Library Police.  How did you combat the feeling that you are the library bad guy, and the sense of dread that comes with it?  Is there a happy medium, between being  security and the nice librarian? Please share your insight in the comments!

3 comments

  1. Jin Han

    I feel that discussing behavior issues with children (sometimes with their caregivers) is my least favorite part of the job.
    Children’s area is totally separated from other parts of library, we are more tolerated to some noise. We always have some chances to talk with children before we involve security guard and it goes to official report.
    My dream would be discuss fun books, games and new things happening in our little patrons life. But I think I can’t avoid this unpleasant conversation unless we kick out all those misbehaved patrons (not just little running and children’s thing, but involving loud arguing even fight among older kids) from the library.
    I just wish the portion between my favorite interaction and least favorite interaction would be at least half and half. Then I think I can take it.

  2. Bryce

    Hi Alyson! I can totally relate. Please believe that your consistent reminders ARE helping. It can be REALLY hard not to feel like a big meanie, but don’t let that deter you! Kids need to know what to do in the library, and it may take a few months but consistently relaying expectations will help kids learn to use the library successfully. I really l’ve this recent post at Not Just Cute about reframing behavior, and the linked post on Behavior as Communication: https://notjustcute.com/2017/11/15/but-ive-told-him-a-million-times-why-a-childs-defiant-behavior-isnt-always-what-you-think-it-is/

    I’ve written a series of blog posts over the years connecting classroom management philosophies to the library with success. You can find them here: http://brycedontplay.blogspot.com/search/label/child%20management

    If you ever feel at wits’ end and want to troubleshoot some behavior management issues, feel free to email be at brycesa1 at gmail 🙂

    1. Alyson

      Hi Bryce,

      Thank you! I look forward to reading these 🙂

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