The Lincolnwood Library is always looking for ways to do better by the community we serve. Our goal is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for library patrons of all ages. Over the past several years we have been monitoring our busy after-school space and the services we provide. Two years ago we asked parents and caregivers to become more active partners with us when their children used the library independently. We thank you for that support, and would like to take another step forward, by providing structured after school programs such as technology and STEAM classes, art workshops, focused homework help, etc.
In order to do that, we are implementing a new “Safe Child Policy” that changes the age limits that unattended children are allowed to be in the library on their own. You may be surprised to hear that right now, that age is 8 (third grade). In discussions with parents, caregivers, children, and community leaders, we have found that there is near unanimous agreement that 8 is too young to be in a public place alone. Beginning July 1, 2019, it will be raised to sixth grade (11 years old; i.e. Lincoln Hall). This change places an emphasis on self-supervision, which requires the maturity level of an older child. Children between the ages of 8 and 11 are still encouraged and invited to come to after school programs, provided that a caregiver joins them at the program’s conclusion.
Our full policy is available on the library website, but listed below are the specific requirements for library use by age, from birth through high school.
- Children in grades 2 and below (ages 7 and below). Must be accompanied and attended to at all times by a responsible caregiver who takes an active role (remaining in sight) supervising the child. For children who are attending programs at which adult attendance is not required, the caregiver must remain in the building and immediately join the child at the conclusion of the program.
- Children in grades 3 to 5 (ages 8 to 11). May use the library with a responsible caregiver in the building. For children who are attending programs at which adult attendance is not required, the caregiver must join the child at the conclusion of the program, but is not required to stay in the building.
- Self-supervised young people in grades 6 to 8 (ages 11 to 14). May use the library on their own. However, they are still legally the responsibility of their caregiver and must have an emergency contact available. If a child of this age group is disruptive or demonstrates inappropriate behavior, the emergency contact will be called to arrange the pickup of the child, who will be required to leave the library.
- Self-supervised young people in grades 9 to 12 (ages 15 to 17). Treated as adult users. However, they are still legally the responsibility of their caregivers and must have an emergency contact available.
Our Head of Youth & Teen Services, Emily Fardoux, is available to discuss any questions or comments about these changes. You can also read more about this in our May/June newsletter, which will be published soon. As the new school year gets closer, we will continue to communicate with you about this. Thank you for your ongoing support of the library and its services.