REAL PUBLIC LIBRARIAN

Monday, February 20, 2006

Working up close and personal with youth...

Well I survived my shift at YL last Friday...very draining, with noise, general boisterousness etc. but generally it's nice to hang out (legitimately) with young people for a while.

The tensions between "is it a library/is it a youth centre" however, have risen to the fore with many young people coming to hang out but not necessarily interact actively with the space/resources. We sort of predicted this would happen. We maintain that "hanging out" is OK, but, victims of our own success, we just can't cope with the numbers. And with so many people hanging out without purposeful activity, there is the potential (and the actuality) of mischief and - and the attraction for a minority of young people who are keen to pursue basically antisocial behaviour (graffitiing, abusive language, bullying). Hmmm a dilemma. The challenge as always is to find that balance. Intense discussions between library staff and youth services staff are definitely on the agenda!

I've also been hanging out with young people in a more structured environment - as the gopher while we run Animation workshops at YL. It's nice to be able to form actual relationships (first name basis) with young people (rather than in the full-on atmosphere of YL during opening hours where you're mainly telling kids to get their feet off the wall/furniture/kid next to them!). We have run 3 x6 hour workshops for up to 8 kids (most sessions have a couple of no-shows so averaging around 7 per session) with visiting Animation artist "Pixelmorph". (Needless to say, all the horrible things I thought could go wrong didn't actually eventuate - the artist arrived on time, the trial versions of Flash worked fine for the workshops, the workshops were all full and everyone was happy etc etc).

Sometimes I feel so good about this job...

6 Comments:

  • A great read ,thankyou. Now I am a social worker and teacher in Gisborne Victoria and coming late into teachering. I noticed what an interesting place the school library is, with disabled or marginalised kids hanging out there at lunch time. A safe structured place, especially for Aspergers students. I will have a look to see what research has gone into what others would have noticed I am sure[as a degree in S.W. is not needed to see this issue]Regards Gill Jewell

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:32 PM  

  • Sounds like you're doing great things for the youth who use your Library/youth centre. We have a small "young adults room", which really just seems to mean that it has all the science fiction books, videos and DVDs.
    Because it has the most up-to-date public PC, tho room also attracts older not-so-young patrons.....another dilemma

    By Blogger Kit, at 9:31 PM  

  • hi deb , great to see your blogging adventures- i really enjoyed teaching the kids at the library, its a very radical concept but i think it works well- wolf from pixelmorph

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