Now and again, I get an e-mail from someone in the field who asks for help or advice. I am humbled by being asked and try my best to respond. But now with the Blue Skunk, the person asking advice might actually be able to get something of value - from you the blog readers! Below is a slightly edited version of an original e-mail, identity removed, and posted with the original sender's permission. My response follows the e-mail, but I am hoping that readers will add better suggestions. Thanks!
Here is my dilemma. I am working in a HS library in an affluent district [in the US]. I have worked in HS libraries my entire career. I am very frustrated because the library is used as a lounge, the noise level is like that of a loud night club. I have no administrative support. Frankly the building is bursting at the seams and the students have no place else to go. I try to maintain some order to no avail. We do have classes coming into the library but with all the noise it is hardly conducive to teaching. My question: do you think there is any way that I can create some semblance of order from this chaos? I have pleaded with the powers that be and cited studies stating that a strong library program is tied to student achievement, they yes me to death and do not allow me to ask students to leave for any reason.Is there any hope for this library? Are most HS libraries facing the same issue? I am really considering working in a Public or Academic Library, at least those patrons are appreciative of what we doAny insight would be greatly appreciated.
I can feel the frustration in your e-mail - and can identify since I've been there myself. My standard response to a question like this can be found here:
But I'll add a couple things...
First, it may very well be difficult for administrators to find other places for students to be during lunch periods, study halls and before and after school. Unless there is an alternative space you can suggest, there may not be much you (or anyone) can do about the crowding that leads to the noisy atmosphere.
In terms of behavior, I suspect you will need to get the help of all your building staff in developing norms of student activity in the library. Find ways of asking your site council, student council and parents about the sort of library rules would best suit the needs of the school - and then ask these groups to help enforce those rules.
None of these things are quick fixes and I believe there are situations in which a non-productive culture is so deeply ingrained in a library that it can't be changed (or is not worth the effort). If that's the case, one might be advised to look at other positions. I would.
Readers, your insights and suggestions?