Email to the Largo Library Director
Realizing that this is an ongoing problem that has been visited in the past, I feel it necessary to once again bring to your attention the extremely disruptive behavior that is tolerated at the library. I arrived at the library yesterday (6/9) around 4:15 pm. There were at least 150+ students (presumably from Largo Middle) idling throughout the library courtyards, virtually blocking the lobby area, in the café and throughout the library - upstairs in the "teen" room as well as throughout the first floor. 3 Largo police officers arrived on the scene during my visit but failed to disperse the crowd. (Perhaps that was not the purpose of their visit?) The kids were extremely loud both indoors and outside (most conversations revolving around how many obscenities could be included in the dialogue) and disruptive. Additionally, they inhibited library patrons from entering/exiting the building due to their sheer numbers and loitering. No doubt there was a fire code violation simply because of the number of children in the lobby. It became incumbent on a library staff member to attempt to corral the students out of the library itself and away from the maintain entrance/egress from the building. I don't believe the librarian is paid to baby sit.
I fully understand that 6/9 was the last day of school, thus creating what may have been an unusual situation. But I have been to the library on many occasions in the late afternoon and seen similar episodes, although not the extent of yesterday's. It is very unfortunate that this situation continues to detract from the fine library facility.
Thank you so much for your attention to this matter.
Thank you for letting me know about your recent library experience. Your input is very valuable to us. As you said, June 9th was a unusual day because it was the last day of school and a great deal of youthful energy permeated the building. Wednesday afternoons became more difficult since the implementation of early release in the schools. Please know that student behavior is something library staff meets to discuss on a regular basis and that we look for solutions to situations that arise.
Library staff has been reduced by 20% in the last three budget years and attendance at the library has grown by 9% over the last year. Currently, one community service aide (security guard) works 40 hours and the library is open 63 hours. A proposal was made to change one of our vacant position into a part time security guard in the FY 2011 budget. This awaits the approval of the budget by the City Commission in September. It would provide double coverage at busy times (cafe and teen room especially) and more flexibility in scheduling. Another idea was to ask the school resource officer to be here after school on early release days (his shift ends fairly early but even a brief police presence could be helpful.) This idea came at the end of the school year, so there wasn't much of an opportunity to try it. I believe he is reassigned until school resumes in the fall, but hopefully will stop in on Wednesdays.
The proximity of the library between two schools makes it a natural stop for many students, especially middle school students who have fewer options after school. After being in school all day, they really just want to chat with their friends and hang out. They often go to the park if they can't behave themselves at the library. Library staff tried offering programs, but found they didn't want anything structured and attendance was low.
Students are warned when acting contrary to the Library Code of Conduct. Disruptive students are asked to leave by security or other library staff. The Police are called and students are trespassed in extreme cases. June 9th was a very busy day and the police department was called to the library about an issue that escalated beyond library staff capabilities to handle the matter.
I apologize for any inconvenience you experienced at the library.
Return to Current Edition