SHREWSBURY – According to changes to Shrewsbury Public Library’s safety policy made on July 1, children through sixth grade must be supervised while at Shrewsbury Public Library.
The Board of Library Trustees voted on the changes during its June 20 meeting.
In its message to the community, the library said that while it offered activities and programming to try to dissuade bad behavior and occupy the students, “[it] cannot safely supervise and manage the number of students at the library.”
“Behavioral issues also continue to impact overall safety and disturb other patrons’ use of the library. There is also concern for students’ safety while walking to the library and through the center of town and in the parking lot, as many children have been observed to disregard traffic,” the message said.
The policy change comes after several instances of unruly behavior by Shrewsbury students. On Fridays and professional development days during the school year, large groups of unsupervised Sherwood Middle School and Oak Middle School students make the one-mile walk to the library.
Over the years, there have been several reports of unruly middle-school students disrupting library patrons and damaging library property. One resident posted on Facebook after an early release day that the library was so loud that people were leaving. The children were talking back to librarians, one child was flying a remote control airplane and others were throwing items, the resident wrote.
The new policy states, “Children through grade six must be continually attended and supervised by a parent or parent’s representative while in the library. Children in grades seven and eight may be left unattended for a maximum of two hours.”
The policy defines “supervision” as ensuring that “the child’s behavior does not present a safety hazard to themselves, other users, or library property.”
Supervisors must be over 15 years old.
The library said that it hopes the policy change may be an “impetus” for further discussion on how to “provide recreational and social resources for this age group.”