Ethical Problems in Youth Librarianship Round 2 Results

I want to thank everyone who participated in both rounds of my ethical surveys. It has been really interesting to me to think through some of the issues around providing service to kids and teens. Once again, I'd like to encourage those of you who are managers or teach aspiring librarians to use some of this information in your trainings. It is also worth thinking about these issues as we examine our policies. Warning: Pie charts aplenty in this post!

Here are the results from last week's ethical problems survey (missing scenario #s had a text entry field/were not multiple choice, so you can view answers to those questions by clicking the full results link):

See all responses here. Round 1's results were published here


  1. Wow. I'm shocked by how many libraries allow parents to see what is checked out on their child's card. Wish people had specified whether they had to have the kid's card or have the kid's permission somehow to let his parents see his checkouts. Am very curious about this!
    Also amazed about the phone call question! What if it's not their parent? Yikes!
    These blog posts have been great! You should do them every so often and see if the results change.

  2. At my library, kids can get a card at any age - but the parent or guardian must sign for it. Until the child turns 16 and gets an adult card, the parent or guardian is responsible for whatever the child has checked out (fines, damaged, missing, etc.). So, yeah if they ask they get to know. Although, with older kids, I will sometimes hedge a bit "they have 3 books due tomorrow" and not say what they are unless they specifically ask.
    We're a small library, so we will sometimes take phone calls for the kids, but we almost never just say "yeah, they're in the library" usually we either relay a message (get home right now!) or put the kid on the phone.

  3. In our large public library system, parents are responsible for the child's card until they turn 18. They can see whatever they want on the card. This does make it a little easier for parental responsibility issues, as the parent can always see what is out on the card, so it's their responsibility to monitor and decide if it's ok, not our job.

    If someone calls on the phone and asks for their child, we ask them to give a description, and then we tell them if it looks like that person is in the library. We also let kids call home for rides on our phone.

    As for the magazine, the only reason why we wouldn't keep a current magazine on the shelf is if it's one of the titles that gets stolen frequently! There are a couple, like People, that get kept behind the desk because otherwise they walk off quickly.


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