Friday, November 30, 2012

"Outgrow" your Public Library?

Babies outgrow boo-boo bunnies, Skippy bears and cribs.  Toddlers and children outgrow their clothes,  and shoes, and favorite shows. They outgrow G rated movies, tiny furniture and finger-pointing reading. Sadly, they outgrow the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. The last hold out: they outgrow believing in Santa Clause. They move beyond training wheels and T-ball stands, as those are only meant to give them a helping hand. Little fingers stretch and lengthen, going from clutching a chunky crayon to the fine motor skills of playing an instrument like piano or guitar. Teens outgrow fads and trends, favorite colors and sometimes favorite friends. At times, teens' bones outgrow their body causing great growth pain in knees and hips along growth plates, if the rate of growth is too rapid.

In a rural region such as ours, children are bussed distances to community-based K-8 schools. These children really have to get along because they spend every school day from kindergarten through eighth grade together, as one class per grade for each school. That is more time than most adults spend with colleagues and coworkers. These children often outgrow the confines of that school and all it has to offer. They outgrow each that they are nearly desperate for high school to start, where these four little-world K-8 schools come together or collide as a new ninth grade class and everything has suddenly changed. Further bussing, larger different building, staff, administration, resources, even friends. Throughout those nine years, their public library has stayed exactly the same.

With all of that said, like many things in childhood, is it possible to "outgrow" your public library?

As part of my final for LIBR 285, I hope to construct a research proposal that might lend itself to shedding light on all of the possibilities for why our teens rarely or no longer use the public library in their small rural town. The survey is the first step, and it is am I.

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