There are three types of libray parents: good, the uninterested, and bad. The first is a wonderful sight to behold. They come at least once every few months, usually every couple of weeks. They pick out new and interesting books for their children and occasionally choose a video or DVD as a reward for good behavior. When their children come, they behave in a civilized manner. If they do not, their parents immediately discipline them or remove them from the library after a warning or two. They care what their children are reading and are able to engage the librarians in pleasant conversation when checking their books out. Oh, how these parents warm the heart of a librarian. Yesterday, two such parents came in with their two children. They came up to the counter and asked for a moment of my time so that I could talk to their three-year-old son. I came around and they had their son present a broken video. He said that he was sorry for breaking it and then presented me with a jar of pennies. He looked at the jar with longing, then handed it over as payment for the broken video. What wonderful parents. Even though the parents payed the difference, they were teaching their small child the importance of library materials and the consequence of his action. These are the type of parents that a librarian truly loves.
The second type of library parent are those who do not care what their child is reading or what happens in the library. Their children come alone to the library after school. They stay anywhere from 30 minutes to five hours. Their parents do not have library cards of their own, and only deem it necessary to enter the library if their child or children do not come out of the library at the appropriate pick-up time. While these parents are not harming their children or the library, I can't help feeling bad for these kids. I wish their parents took more of an interest in their reading. It is sad to see a second and third grader wandering around the library for an hour while they wait. While I realize that parents work and the library is a safe place to stay, I wish they would come in and check out some books for their children.
The third kind of library parent is a figurative thorn in the side of any patient librarian. They bring their children, then let them run free while they chose their own books, read the paper or a magazine, or sit on the internet. These children play tag, fight, pull many books from the shelves, scream, talk loudly on their cell phones, and generally bother other library patrons. We had two such parents the other night. The mother looking through the romance books for a half an hour while her three children created chaos. The oldest tormented the baby of the family. The baby screamed her protest every few minutes. The middle child pulled many books off the shelves, moved chairs, and ran around looking for her parents. The father of these three children sat on the internet, seemingly unaware of the situation. From my seat at the reference desk, I saw him check his e-mail, check his myspace account, and read the sports scores on the ESPN website. All this while ignoring his middle child's plea for his help in finding a book about rabbits. Another librarian took pity on her and showed her where she might find these books. I told the oldest child to stop harrassing his baby sister and the middle child to stop running in the library. After a half an hour, the mother finally checked out her many romance novels and six childrens videos. Only one children's books was checked out, and that was done without a glance at the title or subject. This last type of library parent drives me crazy. Why bring your children to the library at all if they cause only trouble and you don't bother to pay attention to them? Thus ends my tirade about library parents. I can only hope my siblings and friends are considerate and caring enough to be good library parents. My parents certainly were.