This started out as an email to a friend because I can’t complain on Twitter. An angry mom called (angry, but not ranting) because her daughter came home with an R rated movie. Oh nooooooo! She was shocked that we would allow that. I explained that is the responsibility of the cardholder and/or their legal guardian. I don’t think this completely satisfied her but she let it go.
But now I’m curious: what policies do your libraries have? What do you think they should have?
For me, it’s a matter of practicality. Especially now that we have self checks, I can’t see a feasible way to limit a patron’s check outs based on age. Unless there is a way to do it in our catalog system. However, that’s at Libris#1. At my second library job, a smaller branch in a small town, there is an unwritten rule (I’ve checked, it’s nowhere in the policy book) to not let kids check out R rated films. This works because we have no self check machines there. And yet the only time I’d normally see this happen is when a kid would come in to pick up a hold for their parents.
…Letting anyone with a card pick up someone else’s holds and check out with their account seems a dubious practice to me, but as far as I know nobody has yet abused it. Again, small town.
I believe what I told the mom: it’s the parent’s responsibility to know what their kid is doing. If you don’t trust your 13 year old to check out what they want, maybe they shouldn’t be coming to the library by themselves.
Video games are a prime example. (I can’t find a good unbiased article, but look up Jack Thompson for some interesting history.) Anytime youth violence hits the news there will be at least one reporter hypothetically wondering if video games are to blame. Angry parents rail against the pervasive violence found in some games and accuse them of corrupting their children. But it’s the parents allowing the kids to play those games. ESRB ratings for video games have been around a long while. Ratings systems are there to inform, not govern. Parents need to be more aware of what their kids are up to.
And yet, games and movies with explicit content ARE regulated. Here in the U.S. minors can’t purchase movies above PG-13 or games that are rated M (for mature). And outside of the U.S. censoring games is a common practice. (Notice that the U.S. has only one banned game, and for reasons of underage pornography). Even in Australia only last month was it made legal to even sell mature games.
So again I’ll ask you, what is the policy of your library? Do you let kids check out whatever they want? If you have video games in your collection, do you buy rated M games? It almost seems like a loophole that kids can check out movies they wouldn’t be able to go to the store and buy. But what’s a library without controversy?