My library has some meeting rooms big enough for groups and then some smaller ones for studying and small groups.  More often they are used for family visits or supervised visits. And while everything is very private and personal information is never divulged between the library staff and those professionals supervising… you pick up on things. And for better or worse form your own opinions and well, I assign people names. Chicken family.

Not a common fact is that on these visits some sort of food must be provided. It can be a meal or a snack, but some sort of food. Are you starting to see the issues with this and being a library? In the youth department, because we try and feed the kids, there is an area we allow food and beverages. It is not near the computers nor in the stacks. Anyway, this is frequently where these visits eat… and it is fascinating what they bring. I have seen a full fried chicken dinner, ice cream, subway, quick grab of items from the mini mart and a giant casserole. I must say, while I was kind to the patrons, I did not think the fried chicken was the best choice for library eating.

Anyway, you start to see changes in people or not. You see very withdrawn children reach out of their shell and smile and tell you hi, after working for months with someone. You see a parent being more hands on with their child and you see teary goodbyes at the end of the visit.

What I am starting to struggle with, and it is none of my business… is the final chapter. Because these visits can go on for months and then… they stop. And the one on ones with the kids, I get that. Maybe they have worked on the assigned issue and everything is going well. Maybe they timed out and coverage no longer paid for treatment. Most of these kids though, I see the change, I see the growth and I think yeah they got this.

It is the families that are starting to gnaw at me. A lot of these are child custody situations, the child is living with foster parents and visiting the biological ones. And here too, you see some changes. You see behaviors change (or maybe not). I try to help by modeling good adult/kid interactions. But then these stop. And you don’t know. You might never know.

It is like reading a book only to find the last four chapters have been removed. And I never even imagined this would be a large part of my new job and it gnaws at times. Library not so much all about the books these days.

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