In response to a recent complaint from an Evans mother, the Columbia County Library Board decided Tuesday that it shouldn't create a new protocol about special-needs children and disruptive activity in the Columbia County Library.
The matter came up recently when library personnel asked Evans resident Jennie Smith to take her special-needs son to the library's lobby after the boy had "a tantrum.''
"We have a policy, and the policy was followed," said Norma Hickman, the board chairwoman, at Tuesday's meeting. "I think it was handled very professionally."
Smith did not attend the meeting, but in a letter to the editor printed in the Dec. 6 issue of The Columbia County News-Times, she said she was asked to leave the library with her son, who "has problems moderating his volume and has unprovoked tantrums."
Smith wrote that because of the action, she won't return to the library and she feels accommodations should be made for her son and everyone "who presents public challenges.''
Christina Rice, the county's director of libraries, said the library security guard at the Evans library asked Smith to take her son to the lobby after his tantrum, which lasted six to eight minutes and caused patrons throughout the library to complain.
Rice said that she researched policies of other libraries regarding special-needs children but that the current policy for patron behavior covers the outburst of Smith's son.
According to the existing policy, behavior that is considered disruptive to the normal use of the library, or harasses or annoys others and disrupts their ability to concentrate on their work and can include "loud outbursts of speech or laughter; giggling, talking or singing to oneself."
"We're pretty much covered for any kind of disturbance," Rice said about the suggestion of an amended policy. "I don't think we need one specifically for children in regards to what constitutes a disturbance."
She said she is continuing to research policies of other libraries, although, according to the Georgia Department of Public Library Services, no such policy is required regarding special-needs children.
Hickman said it is important to balance the needs of all library users.
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