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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Would you like some book with your library?

I stopped into my friendly local public library last night w/my wife. She had to grab a few books to use in the reading classes she teaches to 1st - 3rd graders.

All was good at first, 'till a cell phone ringer went off. And it wasn't just the volume that jarred everyone within 50 feet of the guy, it was the ring - song lyrics celebrating the wonder and amazement of the female behind. The guy whose phone it was didn't answer right away. He tapped his foot for a few "rings," keeping beat with the tune, and then answered like that Loud Howard character in the Dilbert comics. He proceeded to plan out an evening's entertainment, trading jokes and barbs w/whoever was on the other line, oblivious to the intentionally low volume in the rest of the place. That conversation lasted about two minutes.

Then I went hunting for a book or two of my own. But I couldn't find a free computer to search on. No problem. It's evening. Kids and adults are there doing homework. Many don't have computers at home, right? I can't be mad at 'em for taking their time when they do get computer access. But while I waited for a computer to open up I decided to stroll around that section to burn time. What did I see? two out of three kids - they were mostly teens, just a couple of adults - were playing video games. I assumed they were educational games and kept moving.

I eventually stumbled across the section where my books were - 'cause a computer terminal never opened up - and I went to the kids section to check on my wife's progress. When I got there, I saw a row of computer terminals against a wall. And since my wife was digging through a stack of books near that row I figured I'd sidle over and see what kind of activity was going on. Sure enough, video games. It became quickly clear that these were not educational games. One kid, about 13, got up while I watched and walked to another terminal to explain to another kid how to throw a "death punch." I was curious. So I asked the kid the name of the game. He turned, glared at me, mumbled "Doom" something or other, and swore, because I'd apparently distracted him in the middle of a life and death battle. One kid, also about 13, wasn't playing a video game. He was wearing headphones and listening to tunes on On the screen when I walked by? The album cover for 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

Now, I know kids will be kids. But where have I been? Can't we get a kid to even read a book in the library, of all places?

I'm not hatin' on libraries or their administrators though. I'm not even hatin' on the kids. Kids will be kids. A lot of times they do what they can get away with.

My beef is with whatever parents have under-emphasized the joy (and lifelong benefits) of reading so much that a trip to the library for their kids means going to a place to play free video games.

If you're one of those parents, you're triflin'.


  • Manners and reading ... both lost arts. Geez, if they can't open a book, at least they should be reading Miami blogs!

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 3:06 PM  

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