SHIRLEY — Debra Roy, director of the Hazen Memorial Library, Eileen Garcia-Smith, chairman of the Library Trustees, and I, Dan Schauben-Fuerst, middle school principal, recently met to share a concern regarding public library use by the middle school pupils directly after school.
We have concerns about the behavior of a small number of pupils and would like to bring these concerns to you prior to taking steps that may limit library access to these young people.
First and foremost, we are all committed to widespread use of the library by the entire community of Shirley, children and adults. We believe an open and accessible public library is a mainstay of an educated citizenship.
Since the building of the new middle school, pupils have sought to take advantage of the proximity of the library environment to study, complete their homework and explore the knowledge found in this substantial collection.
Unfortunately, the library has also become a “hangout” for a small number of young adults, who drop in for the sole purpose of socializing with no intent to use the academic services available.
This has resulted in groups of young people arriving and disrupting the tone and making it almost impossible for other patrons, young and old alike, to accomplish their goals and enjoy the library.
In addition to the inappropriate behavior and language exhibited by this small group of middle schoolers, there has been intentional damage to the furniture, carpeting and plants.
The library has a published policy regarding unattended children in the library. In the past the staff of the library has not enforced this policy strictly, not wanting to alienate anyone from the library. However, if there is not an improvement in the behavior of the young people visiting the library, the library will have no other choice but to ask disruptive youths to leave the building for a period of time to be determined based on the severity of the behaviors exhibited.
As middle school principal, I propose that parents take advantage of our pay-as-you-go after-school program situated in the school. There are lots of activities available, both enrichment and social, that I believe will meet the needs of our students. The cost is $4 per hour, and the program is exciting enough to challenge our most divergent learners.
The library and school staffs are committed to providing the best environment for our children and the community. Please join with us in reinforcing the importance of the proper use of each facility and respecting the rights of all members of the community.