Library updates policy for unaccompanied children ages 9-13

Newton Public Library's teen area is pictured, with bookcase and the Nintendo Switch video game console visible.

As part of Newton Public Library’s commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all library patrons, the NPL board of trustees has approved updates to the library’s Child Supervision Policy.

Effective starting Wednesday, May 1, children ages 9 to 13 who come to use the library unsupervised must have their own library cards. Children who already have library cards will need to have a photo taken and added to their library accounts.

A parent or guardian must be physically present to sign their child up for a library card, and/or to add a photo to an existing library card. Photos will be taken at the front desk starting Saturday, April 27, any time during regular library hours.

Once children in the 9-13 age range have a library card with a linked photo, they will need to carry their card with them on unaccompanied visits to the library and scan in with it at the front desk. Even with a library card on file, library users in this age range should not be left alone for more than three hours.

Children ages 14 and older may use the library unaccompanied, without restrictions, but if they do not have a library card, they may be asked to show a school- or government-issued ID to establish their ages.

Children younger than 9 may not be left unsupervised in the library.

“Supervised” means that a parent, or responsible parent’s representative (age 14 or older), is with the child in the library and is ensuring that: children follow library rules; do not present a safety hazard to themselves, others, or library property; and do not interfere with the use of the library by others.

The new Newton Public Library opened on April 1. It includes a dedicated area for teens and tweens, complete with YA books, a video game console and computer stations – plus better places to hang out, socialize, build with Legos, play board games, or maybe even study.

“We wanted the new library to be a resource and a good place for tweens and teens – and it is,” said Dr. Cari Cusick, library director. “So far, we have been thrilled to see how many young people are coming in after school to use the space and participate in programs like GameZone.

“On the other hand, we saw a need for adjustments. More space for kids to use unavoidably meant more space that could be misused. And more kids coming in has made it harder for the staff to track and respond to repeated issues.

“With these changes, we believe we are striking the right balance. We are continuing to let tweens and teens use the space, while ensuring that we know who they are and who their responsible adults are,” Cusick said.