Recall that, in our area, kids 8-11 can be left alone in the library for up to two hours. Kids 12 and older can stay alone as long as the library is open. Only kids 8 and under need to be accompanied. The Boulder Public Library just instituted new restrictive rules:
No person may leave children, age 11 and under, or dependent adults unattended.I don't expect my kid's safety to be absolutely guaranteed anywhere, including inside my messy home (lots of stairs, doors, furniture, electrical equipment and eccentric adults). I just expect that reasonable precautions are taken after a rational risk-benefit analysis. Why would the library be any different?
First we would like to clarify for you that children of all ages are welcome in the Boulder Public Library, and, that children are not banned from the library. Library staff are happy to assist children with selecting and checking out library materials, and, providing reference and readers’ advisory service. The reasoning behind instituting this new rule, which is consistent with many other public library systems across the nation, is, to address concerns about children being left alone in the youth area, or in the library in general, while parents or caregivers were either absent or in other sections of the building.
Our library staff values the safety and wellbeing of children, however, our resources do not make it possible for us to provide constant supervision and oversight of children, especially if they were to wander off inside or outside our buildings.
The libraries are public buildings, and, open to everyone. Because the library is a public place, a child’s safety cannot be guaranteed.Children may encounter hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture, electrical equipment, or, other library patrons. At the Main Boulder Public Library alone, almost one million patrons walk through the doors each year. The safety of our patrons, especially children and dependent adults, is our highest priority.
Libraries are libraries, not daycare centers. Any reasonable parent knows that. But I want to wander the stacks at the library and let my child wander on her own, too. That's how kids discover things.
Can you imagine having to hover over your child at the library, and then drag them along with you to the adult stacks? Library visits would take twice as long. Since library visits tend to happen after school and before dinner, we are talking about a recipe for total child melt-down.
A British newspaper (
[Addendum: I found many articles on the subject. You can try Spatial Ability and Home-Range Size: Examining the Relationship in Western Men and Women or Sex Differences in Spatial Competence: the ability of young children to map ‘primed’ unfamiliar environments.]
Correlation does not imply causation, and it was a small study. But, cognitive psychologists are investigating if the process of forming mental maps of one's surroundings while navigating through them improves overall spatial reasoning and processing speed. Could helicopter parenting be a cause of the decline in STEM skills in American children?
I don't need another excuse to avoid driving my kid to school in the morning amid the crazy traffic around the school. But, perhaps you are sitting on the fence and need a handy excuse. ;-) Besides, Iris says that the walk is her time to think and clear her head.