Image via WikipediaWell, here we go, the "gift" that bankrupts you. The Salem City Council is getting set to decide whether to accept a "gift" to create a "Teen Library" in the old CCTV studio space.
Salem City Council also will:
-Consider accepting a $121,338 gift from the Salem Public Library Foundation to pay for renovations to an area that would house the teen library.
It's not just that a "Teen Library" is a truly terrible idea, offering little but a way to further isolate and segregate young people from the adults that they need more exposure to, not less.
It's also that the library budget is in dire straits, and we're whittling away at core library services. And that this "Teen Library" will require new staff to supervise the place, which means removing staff from elsewhere, which will further the deterioration of our already-shrinking library.
Essentially, the goal of the "Teen Library" crowd appears to be creating something like an Ike Box within the dank interior of a windowless basement (because if there's anything our teens need today, it's MORE time spent inside with gadgets and "hanging out" with other teens). (SEE CORRECTION BELOW.)
For teens actually interested in what the library has to offer, the whole library is the teen library. And what's really needed in Salem is a lot more libraries in a lot more segments of the city -- not a wasteful boutique for teens in the basement that comes out of the services that should be made available to everyone of all ages.
Want a far better use for $120k invested to help teens? Forget the renovation and hire a bunch of teens to bring seven-day-a-week library book pickup and delivery services to every neighborhood center across the city so that every Salem resident is within walking distance of a neighborhood book drop/pickup point.
Also: the library is without a librarian right now. Salem should not be embarking on a "Teen Library" project before a new librarian is hired--instead, the candidates for the job should all be asked to prepare a brief analysis of the Salem Public Library's needs and the means it should use to meet them. There's no way that a professional librarian could look at Salem's declining services and conclude that it makes sense to spend any money on a boutique library hangout for teens within the main library.
The Council should refuse this burdensome gift and direct the City Manager to get a librarian hired before anything else. If there's any value to a "Teen Library" then it will wait.
CORRECTION: A library friend sends:
I wanted to send you a link to the full staff report so you can see how the project has evolved. Probably the biggest change is that the proposal no longer put the Teen Library in the CCTV area. Instead, we're looking at relocating the collection and services into the area currently occupied by Technical Services. It's much brighter and more accessible. We've also developed a plan to ensure that the collection is available and accessible to anyone who wants to use young adult materials during all open library hours. Here's the link:Well, thank goodness for that --- although whomever gets shoved into the CCTV space will probably regret the change . . . it's quite the dungeon down there.
However, the central issue is not about the ambiance of the "Teen Library." The problem is the whole notion of a "Teen Library" separate and apart from the library for everyone. What teens most need is an opportunity to interact with and learn about being an adult, not more segregation into ghettos of teendom, where everything is provided for them and nothing is expected of them.