So many teens today come and spend their time in the library to enjoy the services that Facebook.com has to offer. It is perfectly understandable, really. Facebook offers teens a chance to interact with their peers in a semi-structured environment. They create their identity based on their interests and public social interactions. They are free from adult monitoring over behavior and interests. They can publicly display their intelligence by posting articles or commenting on the behaviors of others.
I am outraged to report that teens intellectual freedom is in danger of compromise by a recent challenge to the beloved communication channel commonly known as Facebook. The grape vine has informed me that the challenge is based on subject matters a few individuals have chosen to discuss using this Internet resource. I have heard that bullying is a problem, and that teens are using it to organize gang communication. I am strongly of the opinion that our library system must manage this challenge in the same way that we would respond to a book challenge. We have no control over how individuals choose to respond to a resource. It is our social responsibility to offer alternatives to unsafe behavior and well rounded information regarding controversial topics such as social networking. I firmly believe that preventing teens who are legally of age to be members of Facebook from accessing the site is a disservice to their intellectual development.
Our appropriate response would be to invite those challenging the resource to utilize the proper procedure for electing to remove an item from the collection. Typically there is a form to fill out and a series of meetings in which the merits and shortcomings of the resource will be formally discussed. I would predict that we will discover the issue at hand is not precisely Facebook as a resource. It seems that the real issue is rather teen behavior, specifically and the manner in which they behave toward each other. Welcome to Rochester, where one of the many symptoms of our poverty problem is black on black crime. What do we need to do? Teach kids to be kind to each other always. This is no small task, and the only way such a major cultural change could occur is if the movement comes from within. >>sigh<<
And that brings me back to the basic truth that is the foundation of quality library work. Relationship building is the foundation through which quality information can be successfully communicated. Small ideas can be communicated gently through routine interactions as the information becomes relevant. RPL is in a unique situation to help promote this sort of cultural change, if we are up to the challenge. We can't even begin to do it without adequate funding.