Being a library cardholder is an excellent chance for your child to discover the world around them, and things out of this world too! They can journey to the past, and imagine what the future may bring. There are few things that hold as much promise as a Library card. It is also a great way to learn about responsibility: How to choose what to read, making sure library materials are returned on time, and caring for items entrusted to them.
As parent or guardian, you are responsible for what your child reads, and for materials checked out on your child’s library card. Most children’s and teen materials check out for three weeks. The Joplin Public Library makes a broad selection of library materials and information available for everyone, including children and teenagers. Our selectors seek materials that will provide a range of viewpoints and subject matter. Consequently, while our collection has thousands of items families want, like and need, it also may have materials that some parents may find offensive to them or inappropriate for their children.
We have special areas for children and teens with materials that appeal to various ages and interests, however, children are not restricted to particular areas of the Library. Our staff does not monitor the materials that children choose. Parents or legal guardians are entirely responsible for the reading or viewing choices of their children.
Libraries must meet the diverse needs of everyone in their community. They cannot overrule the rights and responsibilities of individuals by deciding who does or doesn’t have access to library materials. Decisions about what materials are suitable for particular children should be made by the people who know them best — their parents or guardians.
Children mature at different rates. They have different backgrounds and interests. And they have different reading levels and abilities. These factors make it impossible for librarians to set any criteria for restricting use based on age alone. To do so would keep others who want and need materials from having access to them.
Like adults, children and teenagers have the right to seek and receive the information that they choose. It is the right and responsibility of parents to guide their own family’s library use while allowing other parents to do the same.
Parents should discuss rules regarding library use with their children. If you are concerned they will not respect your wishes, it is your responsibility to visit the library with them.
Librarians are not authorized to act as parents. But they are happy to provide suggestions and guidance to parents and youngsters at any time.
Adapted from the ALA pamphlet Kids and Libraries: What You Should Know.