Having followed with interest several conversations about whether public library policies are too restrictive when it comes to the age of visitors allowed to use the library, I made sure to check out the relevant information at Chicago Public Library, my internship site.
Parents may not leave children under age 7 unattended in the library. Disruptive children, attended or unattended, age 7 or older may be asked to leave the library after one warning.
Parents are responsible for the behavior of their children in the library, whether or not the parent is present.
This, to me, is a sensible middle ground: seven years old is a much more reasonable cut-off than 10 or 11, as called out in the Free-Range Kids posts. Younger children (especially preschoolers) are expected to be supervised by their caretakers, while older ones are treated like adult library patrons if they become disruptive -- warned once and then asked to leave. The procedures outlined below the policy statement cover the case of a disruptive child who is in the company of an adult -- which can certainly happen! -- as well as what happens when a young child is found unsupervised. (Call me crazy, but I have a suspicion that a well-behaved 6- or 7-year-old reading in the corner would probably fly under the radar. And that's fine by me.)
What do you think about children using the public library without their parents? How old is old enough? Care to share a particularly positive or negative experience?