Making Them Take Responsibility

Today was probably my first real test as a children’s librarian and I can honestly say it was probably harder on me than it was on the child.

One of my brighter middle school students, Z*, was in today, making use of the computer to play games and mouse around on the Internet. He’s smart, interested, and generally respectful. He’s also been using several library card numbers to make computer reservations, always telling me it’s family members.

Z and I had a number of talks about identity theft and misuse of other people’s cards, but it’s often crazy enough that I haven’t had the chance to check the identity of the user every time I see him in front of the computer.

Around my neck, along with my ID, is my library card. I’m not much of one for pants with pockets and this means it’s available at any time if I need to test a dying computer or for another other miscellaneous reason.

Z had memorized my card number. I knew he’d been looking at the ID (the kids check it often to remember my name) but we’d had a talk about him not using other people’s cards and I’d told him that there would be serious consequences if he tried to use it. Serious consequences came today–when he used my card number to make a computer reservation.

To his credit, when I called him out on it, he didn’t try to accuse someone else of having booked the reservation. (I knew the reservation was open because I’d cancelled the slot and had mentioned it to him when he was asking about the computers.) His punishment came from a similar incident of earlier this week–a certain time period where he’s not allowed on ANY of the computers at all. I also talked with him, bringing up the promise he’d made not to misuse my card number. It was painful–having to be hard on one of my “good kids” but I felt it was necessary.

What struck me crazy–Z and I spoke this morning about another kid being suspended from the computers for misuse of a staff member’s card. I don’t think he expected repercussion from his actions and I can only hope he’ll take it as being responsible, rather than an adult picking on him.

*Z is not his real initial, I just needed something