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The Library - a place for everyone

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, August 2019; written by Pat Tully

The Ketchikan Public Library is open to everyone, with spaces, programs and collections for people of all ages.

Teens have their own room managed by the Teen Advisory Group (T.A.G., for short). T.A.G. is a group of teens who decorate the teen space, recommend books, movies and music to add to the teen collection, and plan teen programs throughout the year.

Adults have the run of the reading room, with a wide variety of books, newspapers, magazines, movies, and music, comfortable seating areas for individuals and groups, Internet computers, study rooms, and meeting rooms for the use of non-profit groups. Adults can attend book discussion groups, author talks, movie screenings, and interactive craft programs.

The Outreach Program brings library materials, programs and services to people who find it difficult to get to the Library. One example is the Book Share service. Several businesses across the Ketchikan Gateway Borough host Book Shares, collections of gently-used books that are free for the taking, with the option of adding a book to the collection after enjoying it.

The Children’s Library is a magical place where children from 0-12 years, accompanied by a responsible caregiver, can learn, play and read—or be read to. It is a place where children and their caregivers can bond over a favorite story, a Storytime song, or a Lego building project. Comfortable seating around the play area allows caregivers to oversee their children’s activities while talking with each other about the joys and challenges of parenting. Kids from 9-12 years old have their own corner tucked away in the stacks, where they can enjoy a little distance from their younger siblings.

You may have noticed the phrase, ‘children accompanied by a responsible caregiver.’ The Library is a big public space, open to all. Library staff members are trained to help people find books, movies and music, to organize and conduct a variety of programs, and to provide services as varied as registering voters, assisting people with computer access, and finding information about jobs and government services. With all this and more to do, Library staff members are not able to act as caregivers or supervise unaccompanied children and keep them safe.

We rely on parents and other responsible caregivers to monitor the behavior and the safety of the children in their charge while in the Library. Simply stated, Library staff does not have the time and resources to assume the role of caregivers for younger children. It is our hope that patrons of the Ketchikan Public Library understand this limitation. We appreciate the critical role that parents and other caregivers play in maintaining the Library as a place where everyone is welcome, comfortable and safe.

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