A group of girls from one of the local homes for troubled youth arrived, in care of two female guardians. One of the guardians explained that the girls all needed cards so we proceeded to pass out applications and watched as they each tried to figure out what the address of their troubled youth home actually was.
I've noticed a few consistencies that take place during visits from the boys and girls of the homes for troubled youth—y'know, beyond the whole factor of their frequent loss of our materials. One of the ones I've noted before, didn't come up during this particular visit. Another, though, is that in any group of troubled youth applying for new library cards, at least half of them will already have cards in our system. This is to be expected, as many of them are from counties elsewhere in our consortium. But they never EVER actually have their cards with them, which prompts our usual speech to their guardians about how they can't check out anything unless they first purchase a replacement card. The guardians—whose job, I realize, is difficult and which I do not envy—do not want to hear this because they just finished promising these kids a trip to the library to get lots of free stuff. They then try to negotiate with us to waive our $1 fee for replacement cards, or, as was the case with this most recent visit, say, "Can't you just look them up and let them check stuff out anyway?"
"Not without a library card."
"You just said they had cards."
"Yes, they were issued cards. But they actually have to have them here in order to check out books," I said.
"But we're from TROUBLED YOUTH HOME. We don't have money for cards. Can't you just look them up in the computer?"
"Can't they just check out books anyway?"
"Not without a card."
"But we're from TROUBLED YOUTH HOME. We don't..."
(Repeat as many times as needed)
The other major consistency of their visits seems to be a little more gender-based. With the boys from the homes for troubled youth, we rarely have any problems. They check out books about wrestling, or Nascar, science-fiction novels or Harry Potter. Okay, sometimes the boys have been caught smoking in the boysroom, but that seems to be the extent of any worrisome behavior from them. The girls are a more disturbing bunch by far, but I can't quite tell if it's behavior of the genuinely disturbed or if it's behavior calculated to appear genuinely disturbed. Each time a group of them visits at least one of the girls will ask for either the Anarchist's Cookbook (as I've noted before) or will ask ask for books about serial killers. Every. Single. Time.
Even more worrisome, during this most recent visit, the girl who wanted the book about serial killers wouldn't ask for it herself but instead had their guardian ask for it on her behalf. And then the guardian had to check it out on the guardian's own card because the girl in question didn't have hers, nor a dollar to pay for a replacement.
That's, like, a danger sign, isn't it? When your charge is trying to bone up on killing people and they're a resident in a home for troubled youth, that's like the very sort of thing their guardians are supposed to be vigilant about, right? They're supposed to discourage that kinda behavior, correct? I only ask because after five years in this place my sense of normalcy has become a bit warped.