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.
- Remember that the library is a public building. Librarians are busy and are not able to supervise kids.
- Teach your children how to take care of themselves in public places, including how to deal with strangers, what situations are dangerous, and what to do if they feel threatened.
- Assess whether your children are comfortable being at the library for long periods. If going directly from school, do they need something to eat or some kind of physical or social outlet first?
- Instruct your children on how to be considerate of others using the library.
- Always pick up your children at least 30 minutes before closing time. In case you are delayed, give your children an alternative plan, such as calling a neighbor for a ride home.
When You Visit the Library