Last week was weird. There were some strange things that happened in the teen room. I don’t feel totally comfortable writing about them but in short we had some new, rowdier than normal kids in the teen room and some staffing difficulties. The difficulties are that our Teen Aide is moving to a Children’s Aide position and so we are scrambling for coverage until we can hire someone new. Not a big deal and I think our Teen Aide will be much happier downstairs. The Children’s Room is super fun! (Not even being sarcastic! Picture books + cute kids + kid crafts = fun. And boogers, but still FUN!)
Anyway, so with the combination of rowdy kids and short staff not just in the teen room but elsewhere in the library, we decided to close the teen room for the night on Thursday.
Those rowdy teens who are pretty new to the teen room? We had to ask one of them to leave the teen room on Wednesday. He was just not following any of the rules and we gave him a lot of chances, but he had to leave. It was fine; his friend reminded him of the teen room rules – basically: be nice, not too loud, no “outdoor” activities, and no swearing – and he was ok. Clare and I reminded the teens that each day is a new day; everyone starts with a clean slate. So Thursday, they had settled down a bit. They were still a bit loud but not as disruptive as the day previously.
So with the short staff situation and the large group in the teen room, the decision was made to close the teen room. The large group of teens were upset and they thought it was because of them. They thought that we didn’t trust them and thought they were “bad.”
It broke my heart. These especially are the kids that we want in the teen room! They seem like good kids and may not have a place to go after school and some of them hinted at having some serious problems at home. We want these kids, the ones that may be at higher “risk” of getting into trouble, in the teen room. We don’t have “bad” kids in the teen room. They are out being bad somewhere else, not in the library. The ones in the library are the ones we don’t have to worry about even if they are a bit rowdier than our usual bunch.
I felt like when the decision was made to close, that I didn’t do a good enough job of presenting other options. Actually, I didn’t even try. I felt overwhelmed by the confusion and isolated by the decision that wasn’t mine. I see now why the decision was made and there is nothing I could have done about it. But at the time, I just felt powerless and like I was failing those kids.
I’ve thought about it a lot since Thursday. Friday the group wasn’t there and this weekend I was off almost the whole three day weekend. Maybe I didn’t advocate enough or present options to keep the teen room open. And I am committing to trying harder and better next time. I felt pretty bad about myself Thursday and was really upset. But feeling bad and beating myself up about it won’t make me a better teen librarian. It will make me resentful and sad. I’m allowed to mess up sometimes. This was arguably the biggest crises the teen room has had in the almost year that I’ve been at MHL. And really, I’m still a baby-brarian. Yes, I share responsibility for the teen room with Clare, but that doesn’t mean I am perfect and will never make mistakes. It means I get to learn from someone who has been at the library for 10 years as a teen librarian. That is so valuable! I just finished three full years of full time library work. That’s really not a lot so I can’t expect myself to have the experience and skills of someone working longer than me.
I just need to remember to learn and be better next time. Sigh.
On a happier and more terrifying note, the library is hosting a pub trivia night tonight at a local bar. We made questions and answers sheets like a pub trivia night! I really, really hope that people come. A handful of us have worked really hard on it and even wrote our own questions. So naturally, I am nervous that the questions will be too hard/too easy or that no one will come or if will be stupid or I will say something dumb or offensive as I’m moderating. And this is adult programming and grownups are scary. I think I’d rather do teen programming any day….
Wish me luck and if you’re in the area: Andolini’s in Andover at 7:30!