Public Libraries: “When Library Time Means Screen Time”
Lately, my 4-year-old and I have been having a conflict about the library. One of us wants to go. This is not a debate that is playing out according to plan. If you guessed that I am the one pushing to visit our local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, you’re mistaken. I wish I were. I’ve always loved going to the library.
Recently, I’m very surprised to hear myself muttering to my partner, sotto voce: “I don’t want go to the library.” I tell my children that we will have to go another day, when really, I’m putting it off until winter arrives and our choices are much more limited. Right now we have the park, the playground and the ball field, areas that are decidedly computer-free. Because, thanks to an influx of computers at our local library, library time has come to mean screen time.
It seems many other mothers in the community are having an experience similar to mine. “My dreams of lazy library mornings with my kids, sitting around discovering hidden treasures together never really happened and I do kind of blame those irritating computers,” one mother wrote after I sent out an email asking parents what they thought of the computers.
“I wanted it to be this quiet, sacred space, like what I had experienced as a kid,” said another, adding that her child’s library visits became “about the flashing lights and sounds on the computer.” (In lieu of the library, she now takes her son to the children’s section at Barnes & Noble.)
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.