By KIERAN FINNANE
Are Alice Springs teens less cooperative than their Top End counterparts? As Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed, under 15s for the time being can only gain entry to the Public Library if they are accompanied by a responsible adult.
Left: Pre-Covid, youth accessing the library was a matter of council pride, though not without its problems. Image from council 2018-19 annual report.
There is no such restriction in Darwin City libraries. A responsible adult is only required to be with children aged 10 and under.
Town Council CEO Robert Jennings says the restriction for under 15s in Alice is an interim measure until officers “find a better solution”.
It is also pre-emptive. Youth programs aren’t running and we are “just not seeing them [youth] at moment”.
In Darwin’s libraries, hands-on programs for the age group also remain online for the time being, but if a teen arrives to borrow a book or use any of the library’s facilities they are as welcome as the next person.
Is it feared that Alice teens won’t obey physical distancing directions and observe hygiene rules?
“We don’t know for sure,” says Mr Jennings.
The same restriction on entry applies at the Alice Town Pool.
Is council concerned that teens may get a message of exclusion, especially those teens who may not readily have a responsible adult to accompany them?
Mr Jennings says council’s first duty is safety, but with rules in place, staff will then work as hard as they can to bring all the benefits of the library to everyone.
To date, the restriction on Under 15s is not mentioned in the library’s notification of Stage 2 restrictions in operation for its reopening.