A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

When Your Child Visits the Library Alone

Recently public libraries have seen a dramatic increase in the number of "latchkey kids"--elementary and even preschool-aged children left unattended. Frequently, working parents are instructing their youngsters to go to the library after school and do homework until they can pick them up several hours later.

This trend has produced some unfortunate results. For instance, children have been left in unsafe areas at closing time when their parents were late in picking them up. In addition, leaving children unattended at public libraries for long periods can be disruptive for other patrons. Kids who were hungry, tired, or restless have gotten noisy, upset, and have even vandalized library property.

Consequently, many public libraries have adopted policies regarding how they will respond to children who are left unsupervised for long periods, particularly when there are questions of safety or liability. The policies of different libraries vary considerably, so if you have any questions, be sure to ask a staff member at your library.

Preschool children visiting a library should always be accompanied by an adult or teenager. Suggestions for parents of older children who will be visiting the library include:

All of these guidelines and policies are designed to protect children, not discourage them from visiting libraries. Kids are welcome.

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