Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dear Ms. Manners

Dear Ms. Manners,

I need your advice : my local branch public library is overrun with teens! During my last visit all library computers were being hogged by teens using www.myspace.com; as I waited for my turn on a computer, I decided to read but was unable to because of ... TEENS!

The TEENS were: sitting on tables; talking loudly; leaving assorted litter and debris about; and congregating in a menacing fashion.

What does one do here?

Troubled by TEENS

In the past few days I have been bombarded with complaints about TEENS in the library. In the past such complaints elicit my standard response, "The public library is a place for all people regardless of age, race, religion etc..." Except this past Tuesday as I glanced around the library my eyes beheld a sight that I shudder to think about even as I type this post. Everywhere about the library TEENS were perched on tables, ON TABLES, litter was strewn about the TEEN Section as if a 6.5 temblor struck San Francisco. Teens voices echoed across the hallowed hall of the library. And then I lost it. I kindly explained to the patron that I would take care of the situation and then as if the heavens opened up with a rain of thunder I descended upon the TEENS. Immediately after removing the offending TEENS from the library I was struck down with GUILT.

As a TEEN Librarian, I hate having to scold TEENS or kick them out of the library. My job, my civic duty is to get TEENS to come into the library. I want TEENS in the library reading books, using the computers, doing homework, attending programs and just hanging out. But these last few days I have witnessed a complete meltdown of manners. I for the first time understood why patrons so often complain about TEENS.

The time has come for a more than gentle reminder of etiquette.

1. Sitting on Tables:
Do I need to explain? We have plenty of chairs, in fact at some branches such as the Excelsior Branch we have "comfy" chairs in the TEEN Section. Please Please do not sit on tables. It really disrupts my IMing when I have to get up from my desk and remind TEENS not to sit on the tables.

2. Clumping:
"Please keep this walkway clear in case of emergency". We have all heard this phrase before and it does apply in the library. Walkways do need to be kept clear so people can move freely about the library. And if an emergency suddenly demands the evacuation of the building? There will be a whole lot of trampling going on.

3. I Don't Feel Like Walking Over to the Garbage Can Syndrome:
We at the library ensure that waste receptacles are placed throughout the library. So use them!

4. My Friend Is All the Way Across the Library So I Must Yell to Get Her Attention:
In days past folks were discouraged from talking in the library. The library of today encourages people to talk, we decided that "hey it's okay to talk BUT NOT YELL". In fact we think it is great when TEENS socialize in the library. Just remember that others use the library and don't want to hear your business!

5. I Just Love the Latest Cell Phone Ring I Downloaded, So I Have My Ringer Set On High:
It's called vibrate people. Set your phone to vibrate and if you must answer the phone, please go outside to do so.

There, I said my peace and I feel so much better. Try to incorporate these etiquette tips in your next visit to the library. The library is for everyone and in order for it to be for everyone we must all do our part to make it work.

what's your etiquette tip for the library?

Want to read more about etiquette and manners?
Check out these books from your local library.

Emily Post's Teen Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: The Young Person's Etiquette Guide to Handling Any Social Situation With Confidence and Grace

How Rude! The Teenagers' Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior and Not Grossing People Out.

A Pocketbook of Manners for Young People

Social Savvy: A Teenager's Guide to Feeling Confident in any Situation.


airambc said...

That is classic, I love this post, I work in two different high school libraries, and often have to deal with groups sitting on the tables or yelling across the library. I'll have to not some of you suggested "manners" :)

Sydney AKA Kagura said...

yes... most teens are... so very.. umm... energenic, yes? hahahahaha. [I'm trying to act like I'm not a teen... is it working?]
Anyways, I doubt they really realize what trouble they're causing, so... I guess telling them ... not too harshly won't hurt.. too much right? >.<
yeah, I try to be the goody-two-shoes, but I get carried away sometimes when I'm talking to a good friend... ^.^;;; it happens.

teens are just one of those things that we've gotta live with... however, we can attempt to... make it a little better. right?

who am I kidding?... >.<;;;

Anonymous said...

That is so classic! Especially the part about being interrupted while IMing...I hate when that happens. Doesn't the public understand that they shouldn't bother the librarians? Do they actually think that we are there to help them? Apparently, they do - oh, good, job security!!!

But seriously, I also hate having to be the heavy and come down on teens about behaviors that don't always fit with other people's use of the library.But I also talk to many adults who, for some reason think it's OK to yell in the library, talk loudly on their cellphones and eat & drink coffee at their computers...

another teen librarian in cyberspace