Flossmoor library dumps new sign-in procedure

  Flossmoor Public Library (Chronicle file photo)

On the day Flossmoor Public Library was to enact a new policy requiring teens to sign in at the front desk, Library Director Aaron Carlin instead told the large group of regular patrons that they may now use the downstairs Helen Wilson Meeting Room to hang out after school.

There have been multiple complaints over the course of several years about noise from students who gather at the library after school. The sign-in policy was intended to remove the anonymity of some students who presented discipline issues.

Carlin said he recently found out that Lansing Public Library had a similar noise problem, which administrators solved by allowing younger patrons to gather in a meeting room after school.

“They designated their large meeting room for those patrons. It made for a really good social space for the teens, and kept the other areas of the library manageable,” Carlin said. “We decided that we owed it to ourselves and the students to try that idea before we went to the sign-in policy.”

Two library staff members will supervise the teens, who can talk, play board games, listen to music and eat snacks. No shouting or roughhousing is allowed, and the library’s same three-strikes-and-you’re-out discipline policy is still in effect for all patrons. 

However, Carlin said being in the meeting room on the lower level, away from the rest of the library, allows students to be a little louder in a space where they won’t bother anyone. He thinks this will result in fewer teens being approached for discipline issues.

“We did it for four days last week, and it seems to be going really well so far,” Carlin said Tuesday. “It has alleviated some of the pressure caused by the noise.”

Many teen patrons will still choose to use the main Teen Space upstairs in the library to do homework, use computers and work with tutors. Carlin said many of the young people who congregate to hang out are waiting to be picked up by parents or caregivers, and they don’t feel like doing homework or being quiet.

“Some teens might want to do homework but they want to blow off some steam right after school,” Carlin said. “They can come into the meeting room first and unwind and then go upstairs to work.”

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