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Small group of middle schoolers acting inappropriately at library

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SHIRLEY — Visits to the Hazen Memorial Library are up 15 percent compared to last September, but circulation is only up 4 percent, according to Director Debra Roy.

The discrepancy lies in the influx of middle school pupils visiting the library after school hours, said Roy at Monday’s Library Trustees meeting. Unfortunately, she said, some of these logged “visits” are a few pupils coming in and out of the library, skateboarding or biking in the parking lot, vandalizing library property, smoking outside the building, “making out” around and inside the library, and congregating where other visitors need to enter the building.

Trustee Bobbi Jo Colburn said, “It’s a small group messing it up for everyone else.”

This has been somewhat disruptive to the library patrons, both young and old, in addition to the library staff, who are making continuous efforts to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at the newly built library.

“Deb has had a terrible couple of weeks,” said trustee Eileen Garcia-Smith.

According to Roy, she has been receiving complaints from some library visitors.

“I don’t want people to think nothing is being done,” she said.

With school now in session, many pupils go to the library to complete their studies, do homework or research school projects, which the library promotes and encourages through many of the programs it provides.

Garcia-Smith expressed concern that the group of pupils that are acting inappropriately at the library will have a negative impact on visits by children and adults who are trying to use it as a learning tool and valuable community resource.

“I’m afraid they will choose not to come,” she said.

In September, Garcia-Smith and Roy met with Shirley Middle School Principal Dan Schauben-Fuerst to discuss sending a letter home to parents alerting them of the problem.

At Monday’s meeting, Garcia-Smith stressed the importance of making it clear it is only a small number of pupils behaving unacceptably, but the problem will need to be addressed.

“I don’t want other people to feel intimidated to come to the library,” she said.

The library does have an “Unattended Children” policy in place, and it takes measures to enforce the rules in order to provide a safe environment for all library patrons.

In other business, Roy said a new library aid has been hired.

Carol Landers start at the library on Thursday, Oct. 13. Landers was employed at Acton Memorial Library for the last nine years, which uses the same circulation system as Hazen Memorial Library.

Finally Monday, Roy said a generous patron has donated passes to the Museum of Fine Arts to the library. The donor wished to express her gratitude to the library for providing a place to go with her children during a difficult time.

Also available are passes to the Hands-On Art Museum, Boston Children’s Museum and the Museum of Science.

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