Yesterday I went to a roundtable for the users of our computer management software and was very disappointed to hear a growing anti-youth trend. Quite a few libraries have instituted polices to curb teens from monopolizing computers. But what really disturbs me is that their reasons for doing so are because of a feeling that adult activities are more valuable. And in particular what I heard from a few people were that gaming was the key activity that inspired these feelings.
So, a few things. One, in my library at least adults use the computers for gaming as much if not more so than the teens. And while the teens are usually playing various flash games, the adults are hanging out in online casinos, and while we don’t prohibit that it’s hardly the sort of activity we really wish to promote.
Two, why do teen activities lack value. I’m pretty sure what we’re talking about here are social networks, games, and other sources of entertainment. I think we’re now at the point where checking your facebook wall is no different from checking you e-mail, so that’s passed. I’ve spent plenty of time here talking about the value of gaming, so just search the archives for that one. And as for entertainment that’s one of our key roles so why treat our computers different from the rest of our collections.
All we’re doing here is ostracizing our teens, who we’re supposed to be attracting to the library. And this happens all the time, I’ve heard some murmurs in my own library from staff members that during our video game nights there are too many teens wandering around. That’s a good thing isn’t it? We want them to use the library, and we get that by making them feel welcome, not treating them like second class citizens.