I have always loved libraries, whether as a user or on staff. I considered them to be a place of peace and calm.
But to quote Bob Dylan, "the times, they are a changing." The Cherokee Public Library has recently had some problems with patrons which I am putting out here in hope that the public will realize why we have to do some of the things we do.
For example, a confrontation between two patrons about cell phone use at a computer created an unpleasant incident. We have had signs up for a long time asking patrons to refrain from using cell phones in the library, especially while on the computers as the machines are close together.
We have never strictly enforced it but instead relied on common courtesy. However, I have decided that common courtesy goes out the window when cell phones are involved. After the problem we had last week, we will be more vigilant and require people talking on a cell phone to move outside or to a vacant area of the library.
Unattended children create a second situation that needs attention. Our policy states that we do not provide babysitting service and again we have relied on common courtesy or should I say common sense from patrons. Parents seem to assume their child will have a kindly librarian always watching over them when they are at the library.
We would love to make that a reality but our building has many nooks and crannies, not to mention an entertaining elevator, and it is impossible for a busy staff to keep all kids in their sight at all times.
If a parent truly wants to insure the safety of their young child, they need to accompany them to the library. Recently we have had some kids as young as three left to their own devices and we will need to become stricter about dealing with that.
Another problem we have involves overdue library materials. I'm not talking about things that are a few days late. I don't even get truly concerned until 30 days or more have passed. After that the likelihood of having items returned diminishes greatly and the real hassles begin.
I will be filing legal charges as outlined in the state code on some people at the end of the month. In all situations the patron has been contacted over and over as I try to avoid going to that final step.
But it's my job to keep the library within budget and that includes making sure we either get our materials back or receive payment to replace them.
These have been unpleasant topics to write about. However, they are part of our daily routine and need to be dealt with. Anyone with questions or concerns is welcome to contact me at 225-3498.