tips for talking to teens about problems at the library * tell me, who are you? * look for opportunities to
Tips for Talking to Teens about Problems at the Library
Tell Me, Who Are You?
Look for opportunities to get to know kids when they start
using the library. Build a relationship before problems begin
to help prevent issues or solve them when they happen.
Get to know teens by their name. When handling difficult
situations, ask the teens their names and what schools they go
to. Try connecting with them by talking about their school.
(But it’s much, much easier to get to know them when they are
not breaking the rules!)
LIBRARIAN: Hey, I’m Lisa and I am a librarian here at the library. I
heard you were having some problems earlier and I am going to try to
help you out. Would you please tell me your names and where do you go
BOY1: Derek Thomas, I go to Central High.
BOY2: Demarcus Brummell, Shawnee.
LIBRARIAN: Hey, doesn’t Shawnee High have an Aviation program? Are you
DEMARCUS: No, I’m in the ROTC program.
What did I do Wrong This Time?
When discussing problems at the library, use their names when
talking about the issue at hand and explain why their actions
are causing a problem.
LIBRARIAN: I wanted to talk with you about when library staff told you
to stop fighting outside the library. Someone also said they saw you
rough-housing when you came in. Derek, you and DeMarcus look like you
are friends. Is that right?
LIBRARIAN: Do you know why you were asked to stop fighting?
DEREK: No, they just said they were going to call the cops if we
LIBRARIAN: Did that you make you guys mad?
DEMARCUS: No, they’ve said that before but we just run out before they
LIBRARIAN: Well I am sorry they said that to you, I would hate for the
cops to come and talk with you and your parents get upset. The reason
they asked you to stop fighting is because when people come to use the
library, they are expecting people to act a certain way when they use
the computers, find books to read or ask help in answering questions
they have. If a person comes to use the library sees people fighting
DEREK: We were just playing around.
LIBRARIAN: I know; but when people use the library and see you, they
don’t know you’re playing. They start thinking the library is not a
safe place to get books to read or to use the computer. It makes
people feel really uncomfortable and they worry you guys might get
hurt. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Well, You’re Here; What do you Want to Do?
If there’s a problem involving a teen, try redirecting it.
LIBRARIAN: What do guys want to do why you’re at the library today?
DEREK: I dunno, we’ve already used up our computer time; will you give
us some more time?
LIBRARIAN: Well, everyone is only supposed to get an hour of computer
time every six hours.
DEMARCUS: How much money you make? LIBRARIAN: Hmmm, why would like to
DEMARCUS: Because we want some money, you got any jobs we could do?
LIBRARIAN: Tells teens how she got her job at the library…years of
school, interest, etc. How old are you?
LIBRARIAN: Well, you need to be 16 to get a job here; but why don’t we
go do some research on what jobs you might be able to do.
DEREK: What do you mean?
LIBRARIAN: Well, I am sure there are kids just like you all over
America trying to make money. Let’s go look up some books and websites
to see if we can find you some ideas.
DEMARCUS: All right.
It’s About Time for Choices
Empower them with choices:
LIBRARIAN: Here are some things you can choose to do while you’re at
Look for books and I’ll tell you about a good one I just read
Do your homework and I’ll help you if you need it
Use the computers and I’ll tell you about a cool new game site
Talk with me about how your day went at school
But if you are having difficulty following the rules, you can
choose to leave the library for a while and come back when you are
Created by Lisa Sizemore, Louisville Free Public Library