John Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 10, 2009

John Howell Sr.

Responses prove people passionate about their library

Batesville librarian Jennifer Hall paused during a busy day last week to tell me about assisting a 66-year-old patron navigate the Internet for the first time. The lady was applying for a job at a local fast food restaurant which accepted only online applications, Hall said.

During that conversation, Hall told me that she thinks that library use has increased with the economic difficulties. In every part of the library — computer and Internet use is up, more people are borrowing books and movies, more people are spending time in the reading room, she said.

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And people feel passionately about their library if we can gauge their passion by web site responses to Shavonne Thigpen’s letter to the editor published Friday, March 6, “Library abused as child care center.” In her letter Thigpen expressed her concern that the library becomes a child care center on Tuesdays following early release of students from schools.

“I couldn’t agree more,” … wrote “Also concerned” in his or her email comment.  “… The library should not be a place that requires a security guard.”

“I know what you mean I believe its now almost become the norm for children to hang out at the local libraries,” wrote Lily.

John said: “The simple solution is to eliminate ‘early release day!’ … Doesn’t the library have a rule against food and drinks being brought into the building? Also, does the library have a rule against loitering?” John added.

“Former library employee” wrote about his or her experiences dealing “with disruptive behavior and gross misconduct in and around the premises. …I can not count how many times there has been “something funny” going on in the washroom, nevermind the young folk doing drug deals on the outside of the premises where they are not immediately seen by the staff,” former library employee said.

“The saddest thing though is to see a child who calls and calls for his parent/guardian to pick them up and they never show,” former library employee continued.

“It is countless times that library staff have waited for someone to come pick up a child, they never turn up and then the police have to carry them down to the station. I am wondering where some of these parents are, many times people have just dropped off their kids and they are there all day…basically abandoned until they MAY show up by the time the library closes.”

The lone dissenter to the letter’s point of view came from Mike.

“Mrs. Thigpen, I totally disagree with you about the students in the library,” Mike wrote. “I rather see the students in the public library than to see them parked in kroger’s parking lot and family dollar store parking lot drinking. So it tells me that the library staff will work for their money during each and every tuesday.

Which allows us to make what is probably a very safe assumption about how often Mike’s shadow has darkened the doorway of what Ms. Thigpen described as one of our “oldest, most revered entities.”