Thigpen Letter

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 6, 2009

When I first entered the Batesville Public Library on March 3, I was really happy to see our youth of tomorrow utilizing the library as a resource to obtain a better future for us all; at least at first glimpse, this is how it appeared.

As I walked the aisle to find a terminal for research, I noticed every seat was filled with a young adult searching the web, watching music videos or sending emails. The rest were sitting at tables. One young man was eating what looked like a hamburger from a local fast food chain and others where using their books as a head rest as they watched to see if their cell phone would blink receiving their next text.

During the 30 minutes I spent there, at least two young men were asked to leave for disruptive behavior, the security guard was busy giving directions that were not being followed and the library staff was split between managing the front desk, monitoring the hallways and assisting the security officer with making sure everyone was at least sitting.

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I finally asked a member of the staff why were there so many children there. I learned that every Tuesday due to early release from school the children come to the library and remain until they depart late evening (whether picked up or leave independently). I asked if the library sponsored any programs that would prompt this and she replied, they attempt to find speakers to come in but it isn’t always the easiest task.

I can’t believe our society has come to utilizing one of the oldest, most revered entities as a child care facility. I am not certain if parents are aware of their children’s whereabouts or if they assume the library is sponsoring after-school programs, but I am certain that this places a hardship on the staff and those of us who are really looking for a quiet place to study or research, etc.

Has our economic crisis become overwhelming until we can’t afford child care? Has our community become so unsafe that not even our teenage young adults can stay home for a few hours unattended?

What has happened to the community support? Where are the community entities that would allow services to these young adults that would promote productivity?

These children ranged in grade from sixth to ninth grade, an age of rebellion, mischeviouness and in this era what I call, the “I-know-everything” stage.  The library is a learning institution whose goals are to support our youth with outstanding educational resources and leading edge research material as we usher our youth into tomorrow’s state of conformance for our grandchildren.

Shavonne Thigpen