It seems every day we lose more and more of our freedom because some folks lack self-control and the understanding of what it means to be a considerate sharer of our public facilities and spaces. The next loss comes because the Nashville Public Library is having to crack down on youth loitering as the result of the inconsiderate behavior of some students, many of whom ought to be well able to understand the concept of good manners.
Library administrators told The City Paper this week the new policy was prompted primarily by the frequent, and sometimes rowdy, gathering of teenagers and young adults outside the East Branch Library after the East Literature Magnet School across the street lets out in the afternoons and also by groups of high school students who have been gathering, sometimes rowdily, during after-school hours in the youth section of the downtown library. The situation is starting to appear at other libraries as well. City PaperTo be fair, Hume Fogg Academic Magnet School is closest to the downtown library, but many other students traveling across town to attend their magnet schools do bus transfers not far away.
At some point students will realize that they're shooting themselves in the foot. They insisted on pushing the clothing envelope and they got Standard School Attire. They're now in danger of losing their usage of the library because they forgot to be good guests. Likely, though, many will demand their right to do what they want and we'll hear parents providing excuses for why Susie and Tommy aren't the problem. It's those wound-too-tightly old fogeys that don't understand the needs of the children that are the real problem they'll say. I disagree. The real problem is that these children haven't been taught or don't understand that they are not the center of the universe. Their rights end when it meets my rights. That involves complying with some societal norms like pants at the waist and quiet, polite behavior at the library. In the meantime, instead of the library staff helping actual patrons utilize the facilities their time is wasted by playing hall monitor and truancy officer. This is an abuse of our tax money and facilities and needs to stop. Libraries are not designed to be, and should not become, free aftercare facilities.
One word of caution to the Library Board. Some of those students in the library during school hours may be homeschoolers and private schoolers who are legally allowed to be out and about during 'school hours'. I would suggest remembering that before calling truant officers just because those students are there. They don't get a pass for bad behavior though.