Short Takes from the Library Trustees – February 2023

February 17, 2023

Although Bedford Free Public Library users have been seriously inconvenienced by non-functioning elevators in recent days, help is on the way!

Library Director Richard Callaghan told the Trustees on Tuesday that the library is “top of the list” for the replacement of aging elevator controls.  Controls are being replaced in municipal buildings throughout the town but the library will get priority. A change in state regulations now requires updating of all elevator controls. Parts have been ordered and as soon as they come in, the work will begin. It’s an expensive fix – $120,000 for the Library elevators. The Facilities
Department is responsible for the repairs, which were approved at the 2022 Annual Town Meeting.

At their Feb. 14 meeting, still taking place via Zoom, the Trustees discussed some concerns brought up by the staff about behavioral issues in student use of the library, primarily among middle school students, who, in the words of the Director, can be exuberant and rambunctious at times. The good news is that the Library is returning to its pre-pandemic level of usage.

 In particular, the Wednesday school half-days bring many students into the building. The challenge for staff is to balance the needs of adult patrons seeking a quiet space with the activities of the pre-teen and teenage population.  Callaghan and Assistant Library Director Noreen O’Gara say that on Wednesdays they spend a good part of the day walking around and monitoring the students. Tossing a basketball in the building is NOT an approved activity! Other libraries in the area report similar challenges in student behavior. 

As several Trustees acknowledged, behavioral issues are a challenge in libraries, schools, and society in general. Several years of remote schooling have deprived younger children of the “socialization” opportunities normally provided by being “in school.” The years of the pandemic have not been kind to children and parents. Trustee chair Mike Pulizzi, a fifth grade teacher, agreed; he is seeing this in his own classroom. Said one trustee, “Even adults now seem to need reminders about how to behave in a public group.” 

Pamela Aghababian, Teen Services Librarian, has developed a shortened version of the Library policy on behavior in her work with the teen population. The main theme is “You are welcome as long as you respect other library patrons, library staff, and the library itself. This is a shared space for everyone in town.” Staff may ask a student to leave for the day if disruptive behavior continues. Library users of all ages may want to review the behavior policy here: https://www.bedfordlibrary.net/about/library-policies/behavior-policies/

In other news:

  • Curious about a new way of cooking? The Library of Things now includes an Induction Cooktop that you can borrow for one to 14 days. You can now reserve things for the dates you need them and you can select the time period of your loans. Here is the link: https://www.bedfordlibrary.net/resources/library-of-things/ The Library of Things is made possible by the Friends of the Library.
  • The Library will give out gun locks as part of the gun safety program undertaken by the Bedford Board of Health, the Bedford Police Department, and 22 community partners. 
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