"The library is no place for children - they should be out roaming the hills. If you keep encouraging them I'll stop coming".
How do you argue with that ... its like arguing whether the sky is blue or not. But as librarians we have to argue because the sad reality is that their truly are people out there who actually believe this.
The complaint was sparked by a change in layout made at her local library. The clients who use the library borrow insignificant amounts of library material, so low that we are seriously having to justify keeping the branch open, situated as it is in its prime Main Street position. Yet visitor counts are up - way up - we are busy, busy, busy. But we aren't converting visitor usage to issues. And maybe thats okay, maybe this community doesn't want to borrow library materials, maybe books just aren't important, maybe homelife is so muddled that library items just aren't safe taken home, maybe people are laughed at if they pull a book out at home. This community is statistically poorer, browner, younger, older and less educated than other communities in our District.
But we are not giving up this without a fight. We have completely turned the collection profile on its head, adjusted the focus on what resources and services are available and have sought help from a successful retailer in terms of marketing and presentation.
We think it is really important to encourage kids into the library and we will be shameless in employing whatever method we think will work.
And if we lose an old biddy in the process then so be it.