Thursday, September 13, 2007

Try the 364s, kid.

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.


max said...

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Anonymous said...

Yes, you're right, that should have been a red flag to the guardian but apparently they don't pay those people much so they really don't care. Statistically though, females are not serial killers. The males are the ones that seem to be afflicted with this disorder. And women are statistically the victims of these males. So the next time one of the boys goes into the men's room to smoke he might just be satisfying a nicotine fit, but he may be trying to lure the librarian in to make her his next victim. I'm just saying.

alea said...

When I was working in the jail library, we literally could not buy enough true crime books. That, horror novels and trashy romances were all the inmates wanted to read.

It sort of became a chicken and an egg sort of thing: are they criminals because they read this stuff, or vice versa? Good to know it starts young with this population, though.

Lisa said...

Our group home girls like Zane and the lot. For a while, they were worse behaved than the boys. In fact, one Wed. this summer, I complimented a group home worker, because for two Wednesday mornings in a row, her group home young men were better-behaved than the (co-ed) Baptist youth group.

Trouble starts when the boys and girls from 2 or more homes show up on one night: the flirting gets loud and icky.

An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.