Library no go for unaccompanied Alice teens

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Are Alice Springs teens less cooperative than their Top End counterparts? As Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed, under 15s for the time being can only gain entry to the Public Library if they are accompanied by a responsible adult.

 

Left: Pre-Covid, youth accessing the library was a matter of council pride, though not without its problems. Image from council 2018-19 annual report. 

 

There is no such restriction in Darwin City libraries. A responsible adult is only required to be with children aged 10 and under.

 

Town Council CEO Robert Jennings says the restriction for under 15s in Alice is an interim measure until officers “find a better solution”.

 

It is also pre-emptive. Youth programs aren’t running and we are “just not seeing them [youth] at moment”.

 

In Darwin’s libraries, hands-on programs for the age group also remain online for the time being, but if a teen arrives to borrow a book or use any of the library’s facilities they are as welcome as the next person.

 

Is it feared that Alice teens won’t obey physical distancing directions and observe hygiene rules?

 

“We don’t know for sure,” says Mr Jennings.

 

The same restriction on entry applies at the Alice Town Pool.

 

Is council concerned that teens may get a message of exclusion, especially those teens who may not readily have a responsible adult to accompany them?

 

Mr Jennings says council’s first duty is safety, but with rules in place, staff will then work as hard as they can to bring all the benefits of the library to everyone.

 

To date, the restriction on Under 15s is not mentioned in the library’s notification of Stage 2 restrictions in operation for its reopening.

 

 

 

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10 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. John Bell
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Alice library has its noise problems.
    In Melbourne the local council public libraries are still not open to anyone.
    Before the lockdown young parents were encouraged to bring their little kids in and loud educational sessions were conducted next to serious study users. Very distracting.
    Then after school the school kids swamp the place and loudly gather around the monitors.
    Very little sense of respect for the quiet study of others.
    There is a culture now among trendy librarians to encourage loud interaction by youth.
    Sometimes it becomes a madhouse.
    There is a limited quiet space upstairs for serious library users but it seems as though the days of quiet reflective libraries are disappearing rapidly around Australia.
    Kids these days are being conditioned to noisy libraries. A pity.

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  2. Ted Egan
    Posted June 5, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Honi soit qui mal y pense! Unruly is unruly.

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  3. Anne
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Perhaps the rule should be just during school hours. The young people should not be in the library between 8.30 and 3 pm Monday to Friday.
    Otherwise the library should be for everyone with the unruly asked to leave until they can behave appropriately.

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  4. Alan Harrison
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 11:47 am

    I went to the library quite often last year, to borrow books and read while my grandson got his fix of Minecraft on the computers down the back.
    I liked having the local kids around, gave the place a bit of energy.
    They could be noisy and I did see books thrown around occasionally, but from what I observed, the youth workers and library staff did a pretty good job dealing with it all.
    I would rather see these kids in a public institution like the library, involved in youth programs that encourage and model positive socialising than running around the streets or shopping centres.

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  5. Jason
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 10:07 am

    @ Anon agree 100% this exclusion is arguably racial based.
    What timing!
    This has the potential to go national and damage the image and reputation of our town.
    Can you see the headline “Aboriginal youth excluded …”
    The last thing our tourist industry needs now is any hint of racial discrimination.
    Once again the council has made a poor decision.
    Had this gone to a formal meeting it would surely have been opposed.
    We have the traffic lights stuff up, making a suburban street a no standing zone and other operational decisions that show a lack of judgement.

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  6. Anon
    Posted June 3, 2020 at 8:24 am

    I think it is critical that the library upholds its function as a public institution and the full meaning of that public.
    The library is built on unceded Arrernte land – attempts to make it a wholly nice, quiet orderly place are in denial of the history and the present that is its context.
    To further exclude young, primarily Aboriginal, people in this town from that space only exacerbates their sense of exclusion, confirms their sense of otherness and recourse to bad behaviour.
    The library is not always the perfect space of harmony, but neither is our society and I for one would prefer to confront and tackle that in our public spaces rather than keep pushing it out of sight and perpetuating trouble.

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  7. Gavin Carpenter
    Posted June 2, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    Well said Ted.
    Maybe we will consider using the library again if there are no more games of hidee and chasey around the book shelves by unruly kids.

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  8. Michael Smith
    Posted June 2, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    I must confess I was absolutely flabbergasted 10 months ago when I returned to Alice after a six month absence to find three rangers in the library.
    It didn’t take long to see why with kids running around, throwing footballs and being quite a rowdy menace.
    I haven’t been back since so I commend this action.

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  9. Kathy
    Posted June 2, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    I agree with the rule of underaged children not allowed into the library.
    Running around and yelling at each other is not in anyone’s interest and is not accecptable.
    Like the above, they should be at school not in the library in school time.

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  10. Ted Egan
    Posted June 2, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    What a sound idea! Aggressive, boisterous bobbysoxers are not needed in a library – a place for sufficient quietness, research, study, reflection, relaxation.
    They should go to school first, to learn manners and how to read, write and study in appropriate circumstances.

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