Discuss. I give you a topic

I’ve gotten email and notes on Ravelry, and private messages and noise in the forums.. all, over this.

Children’s knitting group turfed from library under new craft ban.

You can click on that to read the article, and I hope you will before we go any further, and I hope you do, because it’s easier to discuss things with people who know what you’re talking about. In short, (but do go read it) a library in Eastern Ontario has decided to shift more of it’s activities towards literacy, and this means that they will not be using their resources to run a knitting club any more. Actually, they are not going to do any arts and crafts at all.

Now, I’ve been hearing a tremendous amount of noise about this. Tremendous, and I wasn’t going to write about it at all (on account of I don’t run the library) and because most of the mail I was getting was along the lines of “Stephanie, please organize a march with flaming torches in which we all go down to the library and right all wrongs in the name of knitting.” which… I’m sure it will shock you… I’m not really inclined to do.

Let’s lay down the arguments, and have a proper debate, shall we?


Points made against the Library by lots of people who have emailed me.

Knitting is good for the human brain, therefore, discouraging children from doing it is wrong, no matter what the setting.

The library is a community space, and the community should define its use.

The children were being very good, so who does it hurt?

Anything that gets kids into libraries is good – even if it’s not about reading.

Many education systems, (notably Waldorf schools) believe (as I do) that reading and knitting are linked activities for the human brain, and that engaging in one, supports the other. Besides, knitting has pattern reading, which is sort of about reading.

Knitting good. Lady stopping knitting bad.


Points made for the library by… well… me. Though I’m sure there’re others.

All activities run in the library take up space and staff. Since the library is not a community centre, but a municipal service to promote literacy, they don’t have a responsibility to do arts and crafts with the kids.

A library deciding to focus on literacy is not really all that shocking or wrong.

Even if knitting and literacy are connected (and frankly, as much as I wish it were not true, there’s little proof), the knitting club was only appealing to a few girls, and the library needs to shift its programme to something with broader appeal.

If the library makes an exception for the knitting club, they have to make exceptions for all the other crafts programmes at all the other branches, because who says those other kids don’t love and enjoy the value in their crafts too? I don’t think there’s any way to put back what one group loves without putting back what all kids love, and then .. well. They haven’t managed to change anything, which they must be doing for a reason.

Finally, the manager of library services has said, “If they want to knit in the library, why not formulate a book club and knit as you discuss a book?” This seems to me to be some sort of evidence that the woman is not on a personal mission to obliterate knitting or make little girls suffer, but instead seems sort of hung up on this whole “the library should be about books and reading” thing, which isn’t really that terrible, is it?


I’m the same sort of knitter as most of you. I think that knitting is really valuable, and really important, and has far more significance than most mortals know. I also think that there is almost no place and no time when knitting isn’t appropriate…. but this isn’t what we’re talking about here – is it? What we’re talking about is asking a library to run a programme that isn’t about books or literacy, and use their time, space and staff to do it.

The library hasn’t, in the end, “banned” knitting, as I’ve heard… they’ve moved their programme, for which they have a municipal budget, closer to their mandate. They aren’t a community centre. They haven’t asked people not to knit in the library, they’ve said they won’t pay for it… and more than that, they’ve said that if the little girls will give their knitting club a bookish bent, then they are welcome to carry on. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that asking the little knitting club to discuss a book each week while they knit, should they like to use the library (rather than a community centre or a home) isn’t exactly an offence that qualifies as child abuse or a crime against our grand and venerable art.

When I’ve thought about all of that (and worked through the little bit of anger I had because I do think knitting is just that valuable) I have to wonder…

Just because I don’t like their policy… does that really make it terribly wrong?

466 thoughts on “Discuss. I give you a topic

  1. I tend to agree with you. So many libraries have enough trouble just being about books these days. Budget cuts aren’t kind.

  2. And a video game night is all about literacy? Give me strength to get my crochet hook around that. I’ve watched people eat lunch in the library – is this also literacy (as in food for thought?).

  3. Your arguments for the library make sense but I don’t understand how one table of little girls makes much of a difference or why video games are better than knitting unless they are reading video games.
    I’m wondering why they can’t reschedule it. It seems highly unlikely that there isn’t one day where there are two hours without a preplanned activity.
    I wish the story had more information.

  4. As someone who has been utterly appalled at the shrinking number of actual BOOKS in our local public and university libraries as additional spaces are made for computers and coffee counters, I support the notion that the primary purpose of library space is to promote reading. Knitting can be done nearly anywhere.

  5. You know, if they begin a reading programme to discuss knitting books while they knit, one of these young ladies could grow up to write an awesome knitting novel. 🙂 Wouldn’t that be great for everyone?

  6. I agree as well, and applaud you for making a statement when you’ve gotten so many “let’s burn down the library” type comments.
    I think having a book club where you knit is so appropriate. And why not move the “itch and stitch” to a LYS or tea room if they don’t want to read?
    I think that sometimes, whenever something touches on what we love, we forget to look at the whole picture. We don’t want our little knitters persecuted! But I agree with you, this isn’t persecution, this is a library. And (gasp) even more than knitting, children need to learn to read. The world will open to them.
    Now, knitting WHILE reading, this, indeed, is the ideal.
    Thanks for bringing this up to those of us who have somehow missed the big debate.

  7. Hear hear! I agree with you, Stephanie. The idea of a video game night is to appeal to those kids that may not be inclined to go to the library on their own. Hopefully, once they step in, the library will be there with interesting books and literacy programs for those children.
    Knitting is awesome. Knitting in public is awesome. Knitting as a community function is awesome. But, if the library no longer wishes to run it as an official program, how can we complain?

  8. there are also knitting books, stitch books and pattern books which many libraries carry. It didn’t say that they provided materials or even a staff member to organize things. As long as the space isn’t being taken away from book clubs or other library directed activity then I don’t see an issue with them doing it.

  9. Thanks for a very well-thought out post. And thanks for (perhaps inadvertently) plugging the Waldorf School! If your readers haven’t heard about it (as I found most people haven’t), it really is worth exploring. Any PITTSBURGH knitters with preschool and school-age children (up to 5th grade) I cordially invite you to check out the Pittsburgh Waldorf School–it’s a lovely place! I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog comments…Betty

  10. I’m pretty much on the library’s side. It’s really their prerogative, and knitting groups can meet in a variety of public spaces. I’d be 100% behind the library if they were enforcing this new practice across the board.
    But…(per the article) why oust the knitting club and start a video game night? That doesn’t seem to be any more literary than knitting. That’s the one part of this that doesn’t really make sense. Perhaps that part has been misconstrued in the article.

  11. As a graduate student, I often go to my library to get the books I need to read for my classes. Unfortunately, my town’s library doesn’t have most of the books I need; apparently the public library’s budget is not high up on the list of priorities for the town. I’d rather any money my library gets go to providing a bigger selection for the town’s readers. I love to knit, but I go to the library for books.

  12. “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    Are the videogamers going to be required to discuss books while playing video games?
    How sponsored is it by the library? What do they actually pay? Would it be acceptable for them to continue if a non-library staff person ran the group and they simply used the library’s space?
    After initially being upset by this I read the rest of your post and it’s not completely illogical of the library. But, videogames? Yeah, because those are so much better for kids than knitting, or any other craft for that matter…

  13. I’m not surprised by the vehemence of the reactions but I do think it’s misplace. If they’d banned knitting in the libraries that would be another story. I have to wonder how that video game night is going to translate into literacy though since playing games is one of the things kids do instead of reading.

  14. our local library has taken the other track – they’ve added knitting programs and children’s crafts in order to increase usage of the space. i think the reasoning is that if people are there, they’ll take out books, but maybe you have to get them there first.
    libraries are community services, and there are books about knitting, so i’m not seeing the disconnect very clearly. i do get the other side of the argument, and i like the idea of having the knit night at a lys (there are just too few knit nights where i live – the yarn stores mostly seem to want you to pay to come in and sit and knit, which i don’t have money for), but i think community protest concerning a community run organization is reasonable.

  15. Locally, our library system is hurting in the budget department. They have had to make some unpopular decisions recently. When the belt tightens, they must fall back on their primary mandate, to promote literacy and provide information.
    We get so used to government supplying us with what we want/need, that sometimes we forget we can do some of these things for ourselves. Maybe the objectors could take an hour or two out of their busy schedules to provide a venue for the little knitters.

  16. My local library, and art gallery, both have knit nights. It does take staff time.
    Literacy is my work, and I can see that for the library in the article there is a need to re-focus.
    Douse those torches. Support your library!
    Perhaps one could volunteer to help with the knitting clubs, so as to save staff time. Maybe one could read aloud to the little knitters?
    (Please believe me, I’m not using ONE to be precious, I’m suggesting that we all think of ways we could help our libraries.)

  17. Although it makes me unhappy that those little girls are being ousted from their library, I could see the librarian’s point of view – until I got to the part about the video game night. My feeling is that on video game night the girls should feel free to bring their knitting and they will have something to do while waiting their turn in front of the monitor…

  18. I agreed with you too, until I remembered the blurb in the article about how they were going to be having video game nights to attract younger people into the library.
    I don’t know about other kids but my son’s video game habit has nothing to do with literacy. If they were moving to a all literacy program it would make sense. However it seems that they are fine with some events that don’t involve books.

  19. Ooh, I can see the arguments on both sides (don’t you hate it when that happens). It seems to boil down to the fact that the library, whilst not ruling out all non-literary activities, needs to focus on those which it feels will draw in the crowds.
    If only there were some big-name knitting celebrity who visit and demonstrate just how many people could be brought in through knitting. Hmm.

  20. While I’m a little saddened by the fact that the knitting club was asked to leave, I guess I can see where the library is coming from. Our local library has turned into a hangout for kids that don’t use it for anything productive at all. They just hang out and make noise. A lot of noise. So, I can see where the library would want to make a move toward literacy based programs.
    My major disagreement with the library in this case is that they are allowing video games instead. I think that the knitting would bring people closer to literacy than playing video games, but that’s just my opinion.
    Either way, nicely put Stephanie. I appreciate you taking the time to talk about this and bring both sides to the table. Maybe they’ll be able to work out a compromise. I agree that the book/knitting club would be a good idea 🙂

  21. It’s very likely that the move to restrict craft groups *was* actually aimed at another group and the knitters simply got caught in the backwash. But, on a positive note, think of all the possibilities! They could knit historic garments/toys while discussing the American Girl books (or the Canadian eqivalent.) They could knit for charity while reading an autobiography of someone that came up poor or in foster care. They could knit patterns/items from different countries while reading literature from them. Japan = Amigurumi, UK = Shetland Lace, Historic novels = Stockings, etc. They could learn so much and still knit. 🙂

  22. Tha library’s argument only make sense if they are paying for the groups supplies and instruction,and the article doesn’t directly say if they do.
    I’m not convinced special interest programs make much of a difference. Our local libraries hosted a series of afternoons for teens that included Guitar Hero, pizza and a pair of artists doing Mendhi. As far as I could see none of the ten or so kids attending picked up a book much less checked one out.

  23. I don’t think it’s that awful. They probably got word from the selectmen (or whatever form of government the town has) that they need to cease and desist, and the librarian had to comply. In my small town (pop density 72/sq mi) we have several outlets for such groups, the local church, the school, the parks and rec department, the local cafe (during off peak). What’s the big deal to change venues, or to include book talk? Frankly, I’m pleased the story is getting press at all, maybe another town would be willing to start a knitting circle (maybe not in the library) as a direct result of hearing of this group’s tribulations.

  24. I don’t think it’s that awful. They probably got word from the selectmen (or whatever form of government the town has) that they need to cease and desist, and the librarian had to comply. In my small town (pop density 72/sq mi) we have several outlets for such groups, the local church, the school, the parks and rec department, the local cafe (during off peak). What’s the big deal to change venues, or to include book talk? Frankly, I’m pleased the story is getting press at all, maybe another town would be willing to start a knitting circle (maybe not in the library) as a direct result of hearing of this group’s tribulations.

  25. The girls are between 6 and 10. Asking them to sit still to knit for two hours in a row is a lot, but now discuss books, and knitting books??? A library is a place for books, and I don’t want to castigate them too far, but what resources are they spending on this program? Lights? Heat? A/C? Wouldn’t those things be on already?

  26. I support the library’s push to be more “literacy-focused.” I get it. I can see where running craft groups for children would pull the library staff away from other library duties and/or affect their budget.
    But I’m having a hell of a time wrapping my brain around their plans to bring in video game nights while knitters and other crafters are not welcome.

  27. I think that the library folks sink themselves by allowing video games but not crafts.
    It’s their space: if they want to limit the space to literacy-related activities, fine—and I applaud her effort to compromise by offering up the knit/book club idea—but the video game thing just makes them seem inconsistent.

  28. I guess that sadly, video games reach a broader audience than knitting does.
    Maybe they could listen to an appropriate book on tape as they knit. I do that with books from my local library and I really enjoy it!

  29. I am a librarian and any activity that is run by a library, as opposed to taking place in the library, takes money from the library’s budget. We have all kinds of not for profit groups use our library for free and if a kids’s knitting group wanted to do this, we would be happy to have them. I really hope the Itch and Stitch Club finds somewhere to meet.

  30. I agree with you as well. Libraries , in my opinion, should be about books and reading. I think a book club that knits while discussing the book they’ve read is an excellent idea.

  31. I hope the video games are brain games of some kind and not Mario or war games. I have a hard time not taking this a little personally too, but it’s the library’s space and money, so whatever. I’m sure the girls will figure something clever out, they ARE knitters after all!

  32. I’m not sure how the public library system works in Canada, but here in NE Ohio, our local libraries have various conference rooms that groups can sign up to use, no charge. As long as you aren’t making money from it’s use, you’re welcome to reserve the room for any purpose you choose. No library personnel are directly involved, except to maybe set up chairs/tables, unlock the doors and remind you it’s time to leave. Perhaps that would be an option for these knitters. Sure, the parents would have to coordinate who stays with them, but that shouldn’t be a big deal.
    Personally, I think the headline in the article is a bit inflammatory and the term “craft ban” is misleading. I think it’s fine for the library to choose to focus on literacy. The video game night is a bit of a stretch, but it does have a broader audience than any one craft, so I see their point on that. You’re going to attract a lot more kids with video games than knitting, or model-building, or whatever.
    I love the knitting book club idea. It sure sounds like the library services manager is trying to accommodate everyone. Good for her!

  33. I see all your points, Stephanie, and raise ya a couple.
    1. It would be easier to understand and swallow if not for this phrase:
    “needs to be more literacy-focused to achieve that end”
    coupled with this one:
    “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    Both of which lead me to the following:
    1. Knitting is literacy focused. In order to knit anything from a pattern, one needs to be able to read. In order to grow in the craft, one needs to be able to read.
    2. This group encouraged these young people to attend the library. A lifelong habit was being formed. The banning of this group says to these young people, “your interests are not important, and you are not welcome here”.
    3. “A younger crowd”…. how much younger do you want than 6 to 10 year olds?
    4. How do video games fit into encouraging literacy? (though it is stated this is not a literacy focused activity)Having seen a number of the games in action, I am quite sure that people who are classed as functionally illiterate (the definition includes being unable to read a newspaper article, and being unable to comprehend government forms) would be perfectly capable of following the few written directions.
    5. Many parents are fighting an uphill battle to get their children away from the t.v./video games.
    6. How much actual money was this costing the system? If a library employee was involved, was any attempt made to replace the paid employee with a volunteer?
    7. Yes, I agree that knitting can be done anywhere. But what is an alternative good place for these children to meet?
    I wonder, also, if there were complaints from other library patrons? If so, these should have been mentioned in the article. It is possible that there are issues not presented by the author, (which wouldn’t be surprising)
    Perhaps my reaction is a bit “knee jerk”, but it is not the “banning knitting” that I object to, it is the banning of kids doing anything in a library that is not a disruptive activity. I spent so many hours and so much effort in lobbying and fund raising to encourage a variety of inexpensive/free activities to keep my kids occupied and too tired out to have the energy to get into trouble. It always upsets me when kids are discouraged from any such activity, partly as it leaves them with time on their idle little hands, and partly because it seems to invalidate their interests….whether it be knitting, soccer, hockey, chess club, or a book club.

  34. As someone in the profession, I honestly believe there is not enough information about how the library was supporting the Itch & Stitch Club to react either way. If it involved direct or indirect funding or setting aside reserved area, then I understand the library’s position. I seriously doubt they are actually forbidding the girls to gather in the library to knit (books in hand or no), but we certainly can’t tell from the brief article.
    As Steph pointed out, there is little proof of a connection between literacy and knitting, however, there is a lot of research being done about video game use in the library. (And a lot of argument over this topic within the profession.) So, perhaps search it out before condemming the library? Video games are not the root of all evil any more than D&D is/was. jmho

  35. Cogent presentation of both sides of the issue. Why can’t Stephanie be Queen of the World?

  36. I spent most of my high school years in the public library which was just down the street from the school. Our library had a “teen section” with a table and chairs and a sofa.
    Certainly no one would object if the kids simply gathered quietly in public space – if it’s not sponsored by the library then the library can’t really complain, can they? (Well, knowing our library, probably, but that’s another story). I also like the idea of another commenter who suggested someone not affiliated with the library request use a library meeting room for the knitting group. Our library had four meeting rooms that could be reserved for a specific purpose.
    The library is allowed to say what events they will be sponsoring, but as long as its a public library, there are other ways to continue knitting there.

  37. My mother used to say,”People don’t have their opinions because they think they are wrong.” I work hard at remembering this when I disagree with someone. Community resources of any kind are always in high demand. Sometimes, when a program is well launched, it is discontinued on the theory that it may continue on its own and a new opportunity can be launched and nurtured to become the same sort of success. It may be time for the girls to take ownership and responsibility for the continuation of their knitting and friendship. When the existence of an organization depends on the people in it, and not the people who facilitate it, it may become more valuable to them. Just saying…

  38. I saw the news article, and read it in full. I agree with the points Stephanie (and others) made, re the library having to choose what it can and cannot support, in these days of scarce resources. The library had me on their side right up til they mentioned they WOULD sponsor groups for video- and board games.
    I’d argue that the videogames may encourage reading by engaging their players in story. Many of these games are myth-based and may lead to *gasp* individual, unsupervised reading. And you do have to be literate to play most good board games.
    If the library is going to allow or promote use of their facilities for activities like this, I think knitting should make the cut, as well.
    I do agree that having a focus for a discussion while knitting, such as a specific book, is a lovely ideal. However, has anyone actually attended a book discussion for adults that specifically stays on-topic for the whole meeting? And, have you MET children? And, can you make cats march in a parade?
    We’re Canadians! Compromise, dammit!!

  39. I tend to agree with many of the comments you made in this post. There are always tough choices to be made when dealing with limited resources. Despite understanding this, I am disappointed that those in charge do not see the value of offering craft-type programming. As a child, my local library was a huge part of my life. I went there at least three or four times per week to take origami classes, attend reading workshops and participate in a variety of other not-entirely-reading-related activities. The free workshops at the library were often the only option given my family’s limited means. My childhood at the library has turned me into die-hard and lifelong library supporter. That seems like a worthwhile investment to me.

  40. I don’t think there’s enough info in the article, actually.
    I guess we have to make the assumption that the program was a library-sanctioned program, rather than a group making use of free/available space? For instance–our doll club meets in the local library. Free. No money involved. However, we are all adults (ya, even me….) and don’t need a chaperone…..
    Maybe the little girls just need another location–maybe meeting after school at their elementary school or something? Or, wonder if the library would let them use the space if it didn’t involve a library chaperone to staff it???
    Where I live (Maryland, USA) some of the only free public meeting spaces are in libraries….conversely, to meet in a community center or similar would cost us upwards of $200 a meeting–that’s almost $2000 a year….which, for a club of 30, is a little rough.

  41. Library has a point – connect reading with activity. Learning a new activity (art, craft or other) by actually reading, discussing, learning and implementing. Who’d have thunk it! OH, the library did. Good for them.

  42. It sounds like this public library is using a very old and dated definition of what a library’s mandate is. Libraries are not about books and newspapers, they are about maps, photographs, computers, and crafts. Reading and literacy isn’t just about literature, it is about learning. That is what a public library’s mandate is about.

  43. I can see the use of the videogames, if they were RPG’s.
    RPG’s, or role-playing games, are very large story games with action and puzzles folded in. Many of these games can be of Epic length (2 to 4 disks in a game), and during the programming and writing of these games, to help save disk space, they use text instead of voice audio files. As the character(s) “speak”, a dialog box will pop up. You read it, then press a control button to move on to the next box or scene.
    This allows you to read at your own pace, and because of the action an the puzzles, you’ll be compelled to read on to see what happens next. It also helps that many of these games have incredible computer rendered “movie” clips, great story lines, and well-thought character designs and personality backgrounds, with several sub-stories woven throughout. There are puzzles to tease the mind, action to keep things exciting, and a little romance that doesn’t completely take over and “girlie” the game.
    Many of these RPG’s are part of huge franchises, the most notable one being Final Fantasy, which has easily over a dozen games. However, when FFX (FF 10)and FFX-2 (FF 10 part 2) came out, they cut out on some of the dialog boxes and placed voice audio files. However, that was only done in movie sequences and key events in the games.
    However, some gaming companies are becoming friendlier to gamers who may be hearing impaired or deaf, by have a text dialogue option that can be toggled on and off. Combine that with the ability to control the voice audio of characters, and you could have your child read the text instead of just listen to it, or a combination of hearing and reading it, thus enforcing the reading “lesson”.
    Thus concluded Reading 102.

  44. I work in a library in Virginia, USA, and we offer many programs, most pertaining to reading, of course, but knitting is also one. The staff feel that getting people to the library is encoraged by this sort of class. People coming to knit also discover the many other things the library has to offer.
    If the library in question doesn’t want to actually DO anything with the class, why can’t the individuals still meet, but with another knitter who can supervise them? All sorts of clubs meet at the library…we have a community room which is free for just these purposes. The library staff doesn’t need to be involved at all, thus it costs the libaray nothing.

  45. I know that people are not really serious about burning down the library but… I live in a community that someone angry with the local government actually did set the library on fire. It was heartbreaking.
    I think I probably had the same knee jerk reaction as others when I read the article.. Ban knitting? Insane! Then I gave it some thought.
    As for the girls’ knitting group, would they be allowed to gather at a table instead of a dedicated room? I belong to a knitting group that meets at a local bookstore. We are not an official program promoted by the store but we just gather on couches in a corner. We often move to a different area in the store in order to avoid the poetry reading night that is sponsored by the store. We have new people join us, no matter where we are sitting. We have even had people in the store to shop ask for information about our group. The knitters might attract more attention from other patrons if they are out in the open rather than in a private room out of sight.
    There is a information missing from the article. Such as, what games will be played by the gamers? Do they bring their own or are the games provided by the library? This could completely change the dynamics of the group.
    One more thought, the knitters will likely keep on gathering, no matter what the outcome of the disagreement, but providing a space for others could actually get people into the library that otherwise might not be there.

  46. As a librarian AND a knitter, I can say that there is not necessarily more intellectual stimulation being offered these days by children’s books than by video games. I was at the American Library Association in late June–well over half of the exhibit booths were focused on children’s books, and easily 70% of those were on contemporary pop culture–Miley Cyrus and the like.
    I know budgets for staff are ghastly, but how about reserving a room so the kids can knit while telling each other stories?
    And btw, where are the boy knitters?

  47. I *would* agree, except for the other non-literary activities such as video game nights, etc. I think they have to be more consistent.

  48. I’m sure you’ll get several people posting who have my background (I’ve met at least one of them at one of your book signings), but I’ll throw in my thoughts anyway. I’m a librarian and a knitter. There has been a debate going on among librarians (at least in the U.S.) over the last several years about what the future of libraries is and how to stay relevant in a world that increasingly relies on Google and Wikipedia to obtain information. I am fairly certain that libraries can and will remain relevant by actually becoming a community center of sorts — meaning, a welcoming environment where community members can casually gather and meet to do all kinds of things. Of course, library-sponsored programming is important and I would personally love it if we had a yarn craft group that regularly met at my library. Having said that, there are budgetary issues to consider and libraries do not historically have very deep pockets. Welcoming people to meet in the library and interact — through knitting, scrapbooking, or whatever — seems like a reasonable compromise. I agree that knitting improves brain function and that literacy and knitting go hand-in-hand, but knitting appeals to a relatively small segment of the population. It makes better sense to put library resources behind an activity that has a wider appeal. While there are lots and lots of knitters in the world, there are more young people who play video games than knit. There have also been studies that show that playing video games can improve fine motor skills and concentration levels in children — and actually help fend off certain diseases in older people (hence the recent explosion of senior-focused Wii tournaments in libraries). What it boils down to is that libraries must decide on programs that appeal to a broad audience while upholding their mission statements. If a program isn’t getting enough attendance, that program must be cut and the resources dedicated to a more cost-effective service.

  49. personally, i think reading AND knitting is a great idea. (what a good bribe!) However, I think the whole video game night is a travesty. Yes, it will attract younger people but so would selling pot. I think what REALLY irks me about the whole situation is that knitting is traditionally female, video games are traditionally male. (Seriously, go into an EB games or game stop or something and tally up the male to female ratio.) The girls have to comply but the guys don’t? Does that suggest what, that it’s more important for guys to be literate? Or that they just know it’s more likely the girls will cow while guys won’t. If the girls are reading one of the yarn harlots books will they still be kicked out? What about the guys? Is it ok if they are reading video game guides?
    I love video games. I love books. I love knitting. Books are about thinking, about ideas and the exchange of those ideas with other people. That’s all things I do while knitting. I don’t think when I’m playing a video game. There are no ideas or exchange. I’m locked in my own universe. I don’t see why this is worth bringing into a library.

  50. Thanks for not organizing a torch-bearing mob.
    I also didn’t read all the comments, but I think Ann’s book-on-tape idea is quite brilliant. Though I suppose technically, a book on tape isn’t any more about literacy than a video game or a movie…

  51. Well, Stephanie, you know I’m a library director and I’m always trying to justify the money we get. A major focus of any library is to get people in the door. I really believe that once we get ’em, we can keep ’em. Sometimes you have to change programs around to attract new people and having a video game program will attract different people than having a knitting program and there’s nothing wrong with that. Hopefully the knitters will keep coming and new programs will attract new visitors. That said, I sponsor a weekly knitting group at my library. Ahem.

  52. A problem of overload exists in all public service areas as underfunded job describtions become unmanagable.
    I am a reader, a newly retired teacher who taught children to knit at recess and allowed them to knit after class work was done. Knitting became the “carrot” for improving work! My kids taught others at recess and discipline problems didn’t exist!
    Sooo I say the library should take this knitting interest as an opportunity!!! (with guidlines)
    * create an area with a sign up sheet for knitting or working on projects every month
    * one adult will be present for every 5 students
    * QUIET will be inforced by the adults or EXIT
    *the adult can work with the librarians to exhibit books on the craft and have literary converstions
    *children who enjoy the library will attract others!!

  53. Well, I trained once upon a time, a long time ago, as a librarian and I can tell you I’d want the girls there.
    Many have made good points in the comments. But perhaps the most telling is “This group encouraged these young people to attend the library. A lifelong habit was being formed” by Barb B. If you come to the library to knit, you come back to get a book.
    And here, our libraries ARE community centers. Anyone can ask for the use of a communtiy room for any group .
    Also, no where in the article did it say that there were library personal runnning the knitting night. If they were then, yes it was a cost item for the budget. Perhaps his is one of those places where parents might need to step up to be the adult in the room.
    And I do have to agree with the video comments. They don’t want a younger crowd. They want the TEENAGE crowd to show they are drawing that age group which does NOT use libraries!
    Yes, there is a finite amount of money to be used but if you want to claim literacy you don’t do video games! Where’s the reading in that? Regretably today, books are the last things that are used in libraries. If you could see checkout records, it would be sad!

  54. My guess about the videogames is that the library is trying to bring more boys in. Boys tend to read less than girls do, so if they can play a cool videogame and find out there’s a relevant book or magazine about it, bingo! One more potential reader, and one more boy who might do better in school as a result.

  55. The public library’s role in the community has expanded beyond providing access to information to the general public. What the community lacks is can be picked up by the library.
    A place for kids to play video games and play in the same room is becoming necessary. It is very easy to forget the person at the other end of an online chat is a person too and more games have a chat option, some are audio. Cyber bullying and a lack of social skills are issues with kids today since many will just sit in front of the TV or monitor after school.
    A problem for many libraries is getting people in the building. People need to keep coming in! If kids come in for video games, then they’ll see the YA section and the comic book section. While they wait for their turn they can pick up a book or comic browse through it, and hopefully check it out of the library.

  56. I read the article and wonder how large is the library the girls were knitting in? How large a community? Are there other resources out there that can take the group on so that it continues? If this raises such a hue and cry amongst knitters, then someone in the community could take on the task of finding another location. I don’t like the idea of having a video game night to attract younger readers (and I hope the flak from the community puts a kibosh on that idea), but if they can’t afford to allow a couple of hours for a knitting group to meet, then another organization needs to step up to the plate.

  57. As someone who got through college with knitting and spent a lot of time reading while I knit, I don’t see the problem with bringing a book to the meeting and having a designated reader. If that is what is needed to give the girls a venue to knit.
    Libraries are often used by municipalities like a bank. if they are short of cash they raid the library budget. In our county the library split off as a separately funded entity. You should have heard the government screech. Suddenly we had a lot better library services because their budget was no longer available for tapping by the city or the county. We got more books and more computer and return bins at grocery stores. If the library is short of cash,time and space they have their own focus which is books and reading. if that is the way it is, if the girls want to meet there add the books.

  58. I think you make very logical comments Stephanie. I work in a Library. I grew up with Libraries. I’m often upset at the “Non-Literary” programmes that we run in the Libraries. Storytimes in some places have become little more than 45min of playtime with hardly any books. Summer Reading club includes Magicians, and clowns! I agree that a Library deciding to pay for and run more Literary programmes is within its rights and we should support them for it! They haven’t denied these children access to the Library and its resources. The tables will still be available, and there are tons of books for the kids to browse! They could pick a knitting book each month and make it a goal to learn a new technique , or discuss colour. 🙂 Never to young to learn!
    I will however say that I am disappointed that the Library in questions feels that it has to focus on computer games to get Teens into the library. *sigh* My own library system is going to be buying games this year. Where does that fit into the Literary scheme of things?

  59. I like that they made the point that if the knitting group were to have a reading related focus then they are welcome to use the space. I mean, it’s not that much to ask people to READ in a LIBRARY. Their books could even be knitting related, I’m sure you could find kids books about knitting or that have characters knitting in them (like, oh… Harry Potter?). A simple solution. I knit and read all the time. Heck, I was knitting when I read the post and the article! But the main point is that the library is in the right to say “we want all of our programs to focus on literacy”. As much as I love knitting, I do think that literacy is a slightly higher priority for young kids, but if they want to mix the two I say that’s a great idea.
    The comment in the article about having video games does concern me. If they are reading related, then that’s great and fits with the libraries goals. If they are not, however, then the library may want to reconsider their point of canceling a knitting group (or other craft groups) that give little kids the opportunity to socialize and learn a valuable skills. I don’t think being able to drive a video car faster than the computer or blow up aliens will really help in the real world. Give the kid a crossword or maze. That’s better problem solving if you ask me.
    To all of us who do knit, go knit somewhere fun and exercise your right to knit where you please!
    and maybe take a good book with you, too.

  60. Stephanie, I’d agree with you except for this one bit:
    “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    This is where it gets hypocritical – video games are hip and cool and will drive numbers to the libraries, while knitting is not hip or cool and isn’t bringing the numbers.
    I understand and agree with your points about the library not having a mandate to pay for a knitting club, but they’ve shot themselves in the foot by paying for video game nights.
    Video games have nil to do with literacy – you don’t need to read to play them, and in fact, video games are one of the many detractors to reading that our kids have today.
    It’s ironic and sad. I hope the girls find a new home for their knitting groups. Perhaps local shops will open their doors to youth knitting circles?

  61. My local public library has at least one knitting group that meets there weekly. To my knowledge, it doesn’t require any staff to run it. In fact, my friend and I meet there regularly to knit. The only time it’s ever taking any staff was when a security guard stopped to talk with us. She had just learned to knit and wanted to know if we had any good resources for a newbie. Oh, and one time a librarian noticed me knitting and reading and commented on how they were her two favorite activities too.
    It seems to me that if there is a parent or two there to make sure the girls are behaving, it shouldn’t take any resources from the library.
    I also agree that video game night is hardly promoting literacy. It’s also not promoting a quite environment.

  62. Long Sault is a very small village (population maybe 2000, if that). They definitely don’t have a yarn shop. The village is about 10 minutes outside Cornwall (pop. 46,000), where I live. WE don’t have a yarn shop. I have to travel at least an hour to find any decent fiber. But, that’s besides the point. I was quite upset by this article, until I read the rest of today’s entry. There are always ways around things. If the library is willing to let the girls knit while they discuss books, by all means… if it can get them reading! I don’t, however, agree with video game night!!! I picture 11-15 year old boys playing Hallo with a bunch of 11-15 year old (giddy) girls hanging out with just to be around those boys. I was that age once too!!!
    When I started our little knitting/crochet group in Cornwall, I went to our local library to see if we could get a room. We have a big, beautiful library with rooms for meetings like this but, they wanted to run it. This was my baby and I didn’t want someone else to control it. SO, I went to a local cafe and asked if we could meet there. They said yes (thanks Chris and Chris) and we’ve been there ever since. We pull up a bunch of chairs, order lattes and yummy desserts and hang out for a couple of hours. It’s wonderful. If these girls and their parents want to keep this group up, they can. It’s just too bad they have to move WHERE they meet. If they’re bent on the library, start a knitting book club or something. Mind you, I really don’t know how big the knitting section would be at this library.

  63. The only real issue I have is that they will have things like “video game night” since when did video games (aside from roleplaying games) have anything to do with reading. If they do that why can’t they have a knit night too. It may not end up being as often as the girls were going, but it would still allow them use without needing to have the bookish bent which really isn’t all that bad either (I am reading inclined myself).

  64. I can see both sides as well. What gets me is that they are planning to have a video game night. Really. Great use of the mind, I say. I think the girls group should turn it into a book club as well: my two favorite things mixed together.

  65. I agree with Cyn and a couple of other posters that there isn’t enough information in the article to really make a decision one way or the other.
    BUT and this is a big one, there are very few places our children can gather safely and on their own to with friends that a) meet their allowance budget b) parents don’t mind them hanging out –at least here in the US.
    Libraries are usually located within walking distance of the schools or if you’re lucky enough to have public transportation, a bus stop.
    It doesn’t sound in the article as if the girls are taking space away from another group or class tutoring. It doesn’t sound as if the girls are asking for help with their knitting. And if there’s adult supervision, I would expect it to be a parent probably a knitter who’s available to answer knit-based questions.
    It does however sounds like the library (and the librarian) are caught between a rock and a hard place.

  66. I agree with Kristi on this point. Sure, the library is allowed its prerogative to focus on books and not yarn. I was all with them up until the point where they said that they were going to have video game night. How are video games linked to literacy? Unless they are only providing leapfrog reading games, I don’t see how video games mesh with their mandate and yarn does not.
    I agree that the library has better things to do with their resources besides teaching knitting or buying yarn (and the article was not clear on whether they were doing either). I would not stage a protest on this, but simply as a thought experiment, the video games=good, yarn=bad argument is a hollow one.

  67. Uhm…I would agree with you Steph, except that:
    “the library’s new fall lineup includes teen book clubs and Scrabble nights. The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    To be kicked out for crafting but invited back for video games is ridiculous.
    Besides, the way the article is written it does not suggest that the librabry was running the knitting group. It suggests that the group of well mannered girls met there on their own. If I were them, I would prop up a copy of any knitting book the library happens to own and I’d knit on.

  68. I love reading and knitting. I believe a library is for reading, research and studying. I don’t believe viedo games belong at the library, it is a battle in my home, so I started a family book club with my teens. Why don’t the girls start a book club that focuses on great women like Amelia Earhart AND have a seperate knit group, say at a senior center? That way they learn how to become leaders in their communities and they jump start their knitting careers! They would also be learning about community service and just think about how happy those seniors would be to see them each week.

  69. I am very much on the fence about this issue with the facts given. It does make sense to ask the girls to do something literary if they’re using the library space, and one question that was slightly unanswered was whether or not the library staff were helping to keep an eye on the young knitters.
    And as much as I despise video games, they would bring more young people and teens in to the library, and after working at a bookstore I remember there being some literature that went along with the video games (young adult series in particular). I’m only playing devil’s advocate when I suggest that perhaps during these video game nights they’re promoting things such as the Star Wars children’s series, or the Harry Potter series, or the Spiderwick chronicles series depending on the games that they play?
    (My personal opinion, however, is if the girls aren’t using any staff time or library budget, I think it would be better for them to meet there- safe environment, quiet, surrounded by books- who wouldn’t want to knit there?)

  70. My biggest issue was also the video game part. If that hadn’t been mentioned then I wouldn’t have become so upset.
    I personally feel that video games does the exact opposite of promoting literacy (not that I’m against video games… in fact, I need to pick up a book more often). I agree though that the manager of the library did give an alternative to the knitting group by adding books to it, I would just like to hear how they’re tying in the books with the video games.
    Since it is all about the promotion of literacy after all.

  71. It’s hard to tell, but I think that protesting too vociferously would really turn the library off any future knitting programs. And it doesn’t sound like she’s anti yarn, just pro “let’s read more.” The idea of a knitting/book club is a good compromise and I think she’s offering a fair middle ground. I would guess that she’s not thrilled about having to limit any programs at all.
    Limited library funding and resources are most likely also at work here. The economy all over is bad and these kinds of “extra” programs are at risk everywhere.

  72. I’m inclined to cut the librarian some slack. I’m an academic librarian who has volunteered in a public library. Those who work in a public library do so because they are dedicated, caring people. It is surely not for the money. The librarians at my public library have to have their masters of library science and then are paid scarcely more than minimum wage with absolutely no benefits. No health care, no retirement, no paid vacation. Also, every program has a cost, even if it is just staff time. If a staff member is monitoring a knitting group, and at ages 6-10, these girls need monitoring even if only to keep them safe from the creepy people that unfortunately frequent almost every public library, that staff member is not doing the 100 other things that need doing. Library materials do not choose, purchase, catalog, or shelve themselves. I wonder if the craft prohibition is not really an attempt to discourage unattended children in the library. Unfortunately many parents feel that librarians are also babysitters. This is a huge problem in public libraries, especially those in urban settings. As far as the video games go, I do agree that there is no place for them in the library. Still, I’m not a public librarian so I am sticking to my inclination to cut them some slack. Librarians suffer from the same stuffy, old-lady image problem that knitters do. We are natural friends, not enemies. Maybe these little girls should try knitting bookmarks to be given away as prizes for the next Summer Reading program. That would count as promoting literacy in my book. 🙂

  73. I tend to agree with you, Stephanie. It’s got to be left up to the library to decide how its space and staff are utilized. Some libraries have so much excess funding that they have to try really hard to use it or face losing the money. Others don’t have nearly enough funding and are forced to reduce services.
    They might be saying no to the knitting due to pressures from residents or local government to stick to the book business. By saying “sure, knit, but talk about a book while you’re at it” is a way of keeping everyone (including the cranky mayor whose only experience with knitting is the itchy, too-small sweater his wife knit for him) happy that the staff and resources of the library are being used appropriately.

  74. The one and only knitting group I participate in meets at our local library. They are the ones who first brought the Yarn Harlot to my attention. I read this blog regularly now. So see? Knitting promotes literacy!
    Our group meets the last Friday of every month. I’m sure we’ll be discussing this next week…
    Thank goodness, our library director is a knitter! And as far as it being a cost to the library…we meet after hours, so I think the only cost is the price of electricity and heat. But every now and again, we bring in yarn and knitting books from our stash and have a silent auction. The money goes to the library to buy more knitting books.
    I’ve read all of the arguments for both sides, and I think whoever said the bottom line is that knitting gets those kids into the library gets my vote.
    I learned how to knit at age 48, but started using the public library at age 6. Not only that, I have about 16 years of library employment in my past.
    Don’t get me started. If I lived in Ottawa, it would be me organizing a group to storm the library with lit torches.

  75. The thing that makes me raise an eyebrow is that they’re kicking the knitting circle out while moving the video games in. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for video games. I love to play them. But I don’t entirely believe that their place is in a library, even if it does gets the younger generation to show up in a building filled with books. When the Rock Band setup gets going and the DDR folk get dancing, they don’t care about what’s around them that they can read. Thus the manager’s comments about perhaps letting them reform if they making it a “knitting-and-reading club” rather hypocritical. “You can’t knit quietly here, we need this space for out weekly Guitar Hero rockouts.” Claiming they want the clubs to have a more literary bent is just blown out of the water when you throw in that sort of attitude.
    The library does have a right to dictate who does when and when, when it involves their space. That, there’s no dispute over. But it seems their reasoning in a little spurious, and doesn’t quite mesh with the other actions they seem to have been taking. They have the right to say no, but the patrons of the library also have the right to mock their seeming contradictory reasons behind their actions, and to make our decisions accordingly.
    Arts and crafts may not directly involve a whole lot of literacy, but they do involve learning, making mental connections and doing something productive and fun and sometimes actually educational, acquiring the basics of a skill that you may take out into the world with you. To cut that out seems to me to go somewhat counter to what a place of learning out to stand for: learning.
    Sorry to say, but when it comes to kids nowadays, the “broader appeal” standpoint is going to have little to do with anything educational, when you get past a certain age group. You’d almost think the library would be happy to have a group of kids sitting quietly, maybe chatting a bit, doing something productive without disturbing others. Or maybe that’s just my take on it. Maybe the rest of the world has a differing viewpoint. Maybe bringing in the video games is the new subtle way to get kids hooked on reading. (Though to be blunt, if that library’s anything like my local library, their Guitar Hero and DDR setups aren’t going to teach kids how to read anything beyond a few vague instructions on a screen.) “Literacy” my big fat behind!

  76. I tend to agree with you, Stephanie. The only issue I have is that the library is including a video game night, which they admit, is not about literacy. IMO, if they’re going to remove the knitting club because it has nothing to do with literacy, they shouldn’t add the video game program. I like the idea of little girls knitting while they discuss books, though.

  77. I suspect the reporter of finding the story a bit absurd because of the inclusion of this sentence in the story: “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    Mmmhmmm… younger than those 6-to-10-year-old girls who were already there, for instance?
    I agree that a library has an obligation to promote literacy as its primary goal. I also think that once a week a group of elementary school kids coming to the library (and presumably leaving with a few books as well as their WIPs) was probably not drawing a whole lot on librarian resources.
    I hope the girls will start discussing knitting books and patterns, just to obey the letter of the law, if not the spirit. 😉

  78. I think that article leaves out some important information. To wit:
    How were these children using up library resources? Was the group being lead by a library employee, using up valuable employee time? Were they using a conference room that needed to be used by another group? Or had they just chosen the library as a safe place to gather and knit, initially (apparently) with the library’s blessing?
    Wanting the library to return to its core mission is all very well but as several people have mentioned…how exactly does a video game night figure into this? If it’s under the guise of “get the kid into a library eventually he’ll pick up a book” — well, a) I doubt that theory and b) why would a knitter be less likely to be so affected? (And really, if the games are all literacy based…the only kids they’re going to get in to play them will be the sort of wordy geeks would are probably there already.)
    As a library patron, I would far rather visit the library and find a group of children knitting than find a group of children playing video games. How disruptive is that going to be?!
    As a mother, I would have loved having a place that my young child could go, meet up with her friends, knit or craft, be safe and be an area where I might want to hang out while she does all the above. I would not have been happy having my child sitting in a coffee shop or sitting there myself while she had her meet-up.
    And in the US, it sometimes seems that the only “community centers” we have anymore are shopping malls. And I wouldn’t want my kid hanging around there.
    So on the whole, given the facts we have, I’d have to say “Boo!” to the library’s stance.

  79. Nicely laid out post. I’m with the library side and hope another location will host the children’s knitting club.
    Per video games and Scrabble: I imagine the ‘video games’ are really reading and writing games (of which there are thousands used by schools/home schoolers), introducing and encouraging those skills. Scrabble is a reading/writing skill-based game. This all makes sense to me.

  80. I definitely see both sides, and I like the idea of a book review knitting group. And I’d hate the idea that I can’t go to the library on a rainy day and knit unless I read at the same time. The only thing that really gets my back up is that they canceled the knitting club but want to institute a video game club. Now, if they want to only promote programs for literacy that is fine. But to cancel knitting in favor of video games?
    Yes, I must admit I’m not a big fan of video games (the more violent and bloody the less of a fan I am). But so far no one has been able to convince me that there is evidence that playing “DOOM” or such other games helps promote literacy.

  81. I agree with you Stephanie. I think if knitters are so outraged, maybe one of them could donate some time to spend knitting with the girls. The girls could learn a lot more about knitting if an experienced knitter were there to answer their questions. I am considering donating some of my time to a high school group this year.
    I notice that a lot of commenters are upset about the video game time. It is important to remember that not only do video games attract a lot of people, they can also be educational. Even games that dod not seem educational can involve a lot of reasoning skills and critical thinking to solve puzzles and other obstacles.

  82. Was the knitting group paying for the use of the room? That’s one way many local governments deal with the indirect cost of letting a group use a community room — above and beyond the taxes everyone pays for the library.
    I do think that the suggestion to have the kids discuss a book is a good way to underscore the library’s main purpose.
    If the town really is that small, without a separate community center (such as in my town), then I think the bigger issue is that kids need a safe place to gather, and the adults have a duty to provide it. If the library is the only shared space in that town, then all kids groups should be welcomed — not just the gamers.
    Back to my laundry.

  83. Hi! All good arguments on both sides. Still, it is sad to see a successful program that gets kids in the door to use their minds given the boot. I bet many of those kids use other library services – like taking out books – either before or after their meeting. It is not an easy thing to find meeting space. My evening knitting group has gone over this time and time again when we start to feel unwelcome at the coffee shop where we usually meet. The local library closes too early for us, although we have used their community room for the occasional potluck meal.
    At least they could have given the group a little lead time to either find a new place or change the program a little to fit in better.
    p.s. I remember spending many a story hour with my kids when they were little that ended with a craft project of some kind. It seemed to be the usual thing back then.

  84. While I think its sad that they are eliminating the arts and crafts at the library I think its awesome that they want to focus on literacy.
    as for video game nights there are many video games that focus on reading and learning to read and spell. so that doesnt bother me. now if they are playing grand theft auto 4 or world of warcraft I might have an issue with it.

  85. When I was a child, my sisters and I would spend many an enjoyable afternoon or evening working on our latest projects. Whether it was knitting, sewing, or any of a dozen other types of creative activities, my mother (knitting needles in constant motion) entertained us by reading from the works of many great authors. Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingells Wilder, Dickens, Ralph Moody, all helped to encourage my love of learning. I think that combining liturature and the creative process helped to shape my sisters and I in many positive ways. My love of books and fibers still brings me many hours of peace in a very hectic life today.
    It is sad to see that the library can’t find a way to support the activities of these girls.
    Perhaps one of their parents could volunteer to chaperone the group so that a paid library employee is not required.

  86. “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    I see others have mentioned this before me, but why will the library encourange video games but not knitting? It is much easier to discuss books while knitting, but during a video game? I’ve yet to see someone playing a video game be able to hold a conversation, much less discuss the contents of a book while emersed in a game. To me this is discrimination against arts and crafts while selling out to a craze. I’d feel better about this ban, IF they allowed ONLY book and literature related activities – like the Scrabble nights.

  87. If you ever considered changing your citizenship to the U.S. and running for political office I would so vote for you!

  88. Put me on the library'[s side…but I’m in the group denouncing video games. Also, I haven’t read them all yet, but I LOVE the recommendation that someone read to the knitters while they knit. All of our libraries have a variety of Story Hours – and can you imagine a better way to introduce girls to “Little Women” than by reading a couple of chapters at each knit-in? (Hmmm….I wonder if I could organize a knitting group to read to at MY library?!?!?)

  89. Anyone interested in learning about all the research going into gaming and libraries, gaming and learning, gaming and literacy, etc., should check out the Shifted Librarian’s website.
    It gets a bit technical, but it’s a fascinating read and it illuminates the current libraries + video games trend.

  90. My only objection is that the little girls’ knitting club is given no space while at the same time the library is implementing a NEW activity to attract teens and it involves video gaming. I’m not entirely against video gaming but why is it allowed when the knitting group is not. Gaming is not about reading either.

  91. As a librarian, I have seen the transformation of libraries from collections of books to community centers that bring people into the library, where they are more likely, not less, to read books, check out dvds, listen to music… It doesn’t take that much staff to let children knit or crochet, and it creates an early love for the library. I hope our library never decides to do something like this!
    All activities run in the library take up space and staff. Since the library is not a community centre, but a municipal service to promote literacy, they don’t have a responsibility to do arts and crafts with the kids.

  92. I have to agree with you, Stephanie.
    I do disagree that video games aren’t about literacy. While there are a lot of games that have zero reading, there are a lot of games that do have reading. I know a boy who, if it wasn’t for video games, would not be able to read. He suffers from some form of ADD and dyslexia and when he was learning to read a book or any sort of typical literature was uninteresting to him because he couldn’t keep focused, and the books were overwhelming to him. Do I think the library should fund video games? Not particularly, but I just wanted the “video games are not literacy” people to understand that they can help some children learn to read.
    That being said I think a knitting/book club would be a fabulous idea.

  93. This is an interesting argument. I didn’t realize that libraries in Canada provided funding for various groups like this-i don’t think they do that in the states. the only other thing i think odd is that the library is going to promote video games? i’d think that arts and crafts are more enriching than video games. this is a good lesson for the girls, but i think the book club/knitting club is an excellent solution/compromise-isn’t that the lesson we want our young people to learn? keep us posted on this, i’d be interested in the results.

  94. I think the problem is the video game night – seems kind of incongruous when they are eliminating the knitting club to “focus on literacy,” and yet sponsoring a video game night.

  95. I am a third grade teacher and I teach my students to cork (spool knit) and then to knit. When I am doing the read-aloud, they sit around and do just that. Many people are better able to listen and attend when they have something to do with their hands. I also feel that I am giving my students a coping mechanism for this crazy world we live in. If the parents took turns attending the book/knit night to read aloud, wouldn’t that be the best of both worlds? I think that the librarian’s idea of combining reading and knitting is a great compromise.

  96. I agree with the points you have made and offer a suggestion as well. There are knitting books, both of the instructional and fictional variety. Might the library support a book group to discuss knitting resources? Just an idea. Nice entry. Thanks.

  97. Your points on behalf of the library are excellent. And with a sister who’s a librarian, I hear horror stories every day of how incapable many children are of reading a book, doing research, etc. And the spokeswoman DID offer a way that the children could continue to use the library! All things considered, the library seems to be trying to carry out its primary purpose, and that’s to be applauded.

  98. Like many other commenters, I wish the article had said how much of the library’s resources the knitting group was taking. It’s one thing if the library was providing a room/supplies/staff supervision, but I think it’s another if the girls were just showing up, finding an unused table and spending the next few hours knitting. I completely agree that a library has every right to devote its resources to literacy (and should be doing so), but I am less certain about a library’s right to absolute control over its spaces. Certainly they have to look out for their books and patrons – hence the no food, no drinks, no noise rules – but I don’t really understand how knitting fits into that. Without knowing more about the resource question, all I can really say is that I don’t understand the library’s action.
    Another factor, I think, is how hard it is to find some place for a knitting group to meet when you’re so young. The town in question may be different, but where I grew up, the library was pretty much the only place we could do that sort of thing, unless we could talk a mom into hosting us (which didn’t happen often). And I would bet that the library is a far less frightening place to the average 6-10 year old than a community center. I think one of the capacities of a library is to be a gathering place in the community, and I (if I were running a library) would be thrilled to see a group of kids voluntarily doing something besides watching TV. And I’m sure that at least a couple of the girls stuck around afterwards to check out books. So again, I really don’t understand the library’s action.
    I don’t think it would be unreasonable to treat knitting and crochet differently from most other crafts. Many crafts involve glue, paint, or glitter, and I can understand a library (or any place that isn’t a kindergarten classroom) wanting to avoid the risks there. This goes back to a library looking out for its books and patrons. But knitting (and most other forms of needlework) is really pretty innocuous in terms of its mess.
    One other thing that I don’t understand is the video game night. I understand the desire to get people into the library, but I’m skeptical that most gamers (especially the young ones) will readily make the transition from games to books. On the other hand, if they’re running game nights as a library fund raiser, more power to them.
    Really, I don’t have enough information to make any sort of judgment. I don’t understand the library’s action, but I don’t think that it was necessarily unreasonable.

  99. TOTALLY agree with you, Steph. As an avid reader, I know the value in keeping our Libraries focused on reading and literacy, and keeping them places where those who want to read and learn can do so in a quiet, peaceful environment.
    I know that these little knitters weren’t causing a ruckus per se, but alas; all knitters that I have ever met have a certain kind of fire in their bellies, no? Perhaps it’s good to separate knitting from reading, and every other craft as well so that each can be performed in an environment tailored to suit it best.

  100. Thank you for your highly reasonable pro & con list. I remind my children of this often – just because you disagree or don’t like something, that doesn’t automatically make it wrong. Sometimes I even need to remind myself!

  101. Thank you, Stephanie, for being the voice of sanity. While I am slightly obsessed with knitting and love to see kids knitting myself, I don’t see this as a situation that requires a flaming torch parade.
    One further point (apologies if other commenters have made it already–I haven’t had time to read them all!) is that the library may have restrictions imposed upon it by its role as a municipal institution. I’m a librarian in the U.S., so I don’t know exactly how this works in Canada, but often public libraries here have to abide by not just their internal rules but by rules imposed by the city/county/etc. In some cases, these rules dictate use of library space and funding and so forth.
    It’s entirely possible that the library director isn’t on an anti-yarn tear, but that she is simply doing the best she can with restrictive rules and limited resources.
    People who feel that the library should function as a community center where kids can go and knit–an idea that I personally can get behind, I love it!–should consider whether the library in question (or their own local library) can’t provide this due to lack of funding or lack of community input, and become more involved with helping to shape the library’s mission, or advocating for better funding. I’m thinking of Sarah R’s point, above:
    “And in the US, it sometimes seems that the only “community centers” we have anymore are shopping malls. And I wouldn’t want my kid hanging around there.”
    I agree–this is so sad and frustrating, and I think you have an excellent point. But it happens not because libraries are meanies who don’t want to be welcoming. It happens because malls have tons of money and can make themselves attractive to customers and to municipalities. A library just doesn’t have the same resources.
    It’s up to citizens who believe that libraries, community centers, etc.–spaces for all citizens to enjoy culture and create community in a safe place–to help create and sustain those places.

  102. I’ll chime in on the side of the library. I don’t know about the profit/loss sheets of those libraries, but the one in our area has a good bit more on the loss side than the profit. If fact our library doesn’t have to charge GST due to the fact that its income falls in the GST optional category. In other words, not much.
    The Canadian government will only fund literacy/learning related things and most libraries really need government funding. They have to show an accounting of all activities in the building and how much each costs compared to how many people they draw. They also have to show that a service they provide is related to that event.
    This library (as most do) probably provides internet services to the community and as such, a video night is not outside their mandate and government funding. While a craft event would be outside the funding unless the group regularly checked out crafting books to use.
    If this group didn’t touch a library book while in the library but brought in their own books/patterns, it would be like going to a restaurant and bringing your own food. No one would say a word if a restaurant turfed a group that didn’t buy anything and brought in their own food.

  103. Initally, I was annoyed, then read your comments Stephanie, and as usual they are right on target!
    I do want to know exactly what kind of video games will be at the video game night. If they’re not educational, then this is discrimination against all crafters, and just turns into a publicity stunt to try to get more boys into the library without the guarantee that they’ll actually look at or check out books.Certainly, video games can improve coordination, but that’s not literacy according to their definition.I’ve never seen kids/teens at my library who look at books while they’re waiting for their turn at the console or monitor, usually they’re yelling at each other to hurry up or cheering each other on. I just wonder what they’ll say in a year if the video game night turns into a loud hangout with no literacy value at all????

  104. I am very curious to know what exactly the library will be doing with video games. There are definitely some great literacy programs out there for younger kids and I can see those fitting in well. However, somehow I don’t think the “younger crowd” the library wants to attract is quite that young. If they are looking to attract the tweens and teens, I can’t think of many games that are educational that are also likely to attract the target audience. I could easily be convinced that this is a good idea, but the article doesn’t make the point, IMO.
    As for the girls knitting, or other groups doing their craft, the policy in our local library is that activities must be reasonably quiet, not have the possibility of damaging the books (i.e., no glue or colored liquids), not be offensive to other patrons, and not require assistance from the staff. Also, groups that are not studying or otherwise using the books or other library media are expected to give way to those that are if space becomes an issue, as regularly happens around the end of the semester. To me, this is totally reasonable.
    And finally, would the library be okay if the girls were discussing a knitting book? For example, could they borrow a stitch dictionary (assuming the library has one) and discuss or practice different stitches? Or variations on a pattern?

  105. It appears to be a small branch – open only 30 hours each week (compared to the 67 hours each week of my local library)! The new policy makes sense, then, to set parameters for programming time. As has been repeated, they can do what they like (not what I like!).
    As far as having a video game event: the operative word is “event”. The knitting group was a weekly program, in contrast to a one-time only special event.
    The article mentioned the adult in charge picturing serving tea and biscuits to the girls. Great idea, and best accomplished in the garden or near a cozy fire!

  106. I would love to see the parents of this group of girls have a meeting with them and formulate a reasonable argument that the girls can then present to the library. These girls can take an active role in trying to effect the change that they want rather than be victimized by it. Even if they lose their argument, the act of negotiating is something that all young people will benefit from.
    I would make sure to include two really important points–you actually do read patterns while you knit and that working out the patterns and following them is an exercise in critical thinking that also works those math cells in young brains.
    I wonder if anyone has checked the girls library cards to see if they are also book consumers.

  107. This was first said…
    “the ban on crafts was put on place because the municipality is revamping its 18 library branches in an effort to attract more people and needs to be more literacy-focused to achieve that end.”
    Ok..understood..but then this??
    “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    What a friggen hypocrisy! They HAD a younger crowd. A very essential crowd. 6-10 year old’s in a library, being influenced into something productive…NOT playing video games or watching t.v….just sitting…and practicing patience. They said no to THAT…but said..”HEY let’s have teenagers who want to play video games instead?”
    Yeah..this constitutes as a WTF moment.

  108. I understand the whole limited resource thing. And I know that generally speaking, libraries are not used as they once were. This means it’s important to figure out activities that bring traffic into the library so the libraries don’t die.
    The part that bugs me is that the knitters were told to change what they are doing or vacate, but a video games group will be welcomed in. On one hand, more kids do video games than knit. It’s a less interactive hobby with kids focused on the screen and not talking to others, let alone discussing books while they do it (bad) However, the popularity of this hobby will drive traffic into the library (which is good). At the same time, I hate to see anything that encourages kids to do handcrafts get brushed to the side.
    My other hobby is quilting. Since moving from Southern California back to my hometown in western Pennsylvania, I’ve been getting way too many ageism vibes from my local quilt shop. Since I’m closer to 40 than 35, I find that pretty ridiculous, but it still bugs me.
    I don’t feel the need to string anyone up using my long circular needles over this. It’s certainly sad, but I’m not going to go picket or anything. Of course, my favorite suggestion among the comments is that I hope there’s an LYS in the area that will welcome the kids to knit there!

  109. I agree with you, Stephanie. I think that there are many ways to solve their dilemma, and it’s not about a ban necessarily but just a sorting of priorities. A reading-knitting club would be a fantastic idea for the kids. And if they can’t do that, there are sure to be plenty of places to house the kids while they have their knitting club. Their library isn’t the only place to knit!

  110. I actually stopped meeting a knitting group because of their sense of entitlement over being able to meet at a public library on a regular basis. (They wanted a standing reservation for one of the conference rooms, which were (for everyone) on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations taken more than a week in advance.)
    Libraries being something of a community resource, they are primarily intended (I’d been taught) for sharing learning resources throughout the community.
    Knitting groups, once established, don’t need to take up the libraries’ resources to maintain said groups – go to a coffee shop to meet up; do a rotation of members’ homes; go to a park or, better yet, head to a yarn store that would cater to your group! (Chances are, the LYS would be happy to have their customers spend more time there…)

  111. Wow, there are a lot of great ideas here. I’ll try not to re-hash too much.
    First, I agree that the article doesn’t really give enough information. However, here are some things that went through my head as I was reading:
    For children that young, I think the socializing aspect of the knitting group is just as important as the knitting itself. A library, while different from a community center, is one place in the community where people can come together. Which, in our increasingly cyber-based world, is invaluable. And if video games bring teens in to hang out together, rather than alone in their rooms, I think that’s a good thing, too. Not necessarily a literacy-enhancing thing, but I don’t play video games, so I don’t know.
    I also understand that libraries need to be about literacy. I got from the article that the librarian wasn’t banning knitting in the library, just saying that the library no longer has the resources to support the group. (I assume the library was using its resources. Otherwise, we have a whole ‘nother story…) So, the headline notwithstanding, the library isn’t saying “knitters be gone.” It’s just trying to do the best it can for the most people with the resources it has. (And, clearly, that particular librarian isn’t a knitter…)
    So, let’s put out our torches…we’d be burning books, after all. And that’s bad!

  112. As a knitter and a librarian, I’m afraid the librarian in this case was put in a lose-lose position. Literacy is still the focus, in spite of DVD rentals, computers, etc., etc. Public/ municipal libraries are fighting for every penny of their budgets, and they have to work with both their limited funds and the mandate they are given by the city/county/entity which levies taxes for their budget. The fact that she hasn’t banned it altogether says a lot. Wonder if there is a community center or the like which could take over the knitting club?

  113. As a supporter(haunter) of my local library from childhood, I am intimately familiar with shrinking budgets and resources allotted to something most of our society takes for granted will always be there. While knitting as a cultural activity seems like it would fall right inline with the spirit of literacy and knowledge of cultures… I can completely see their point. And to be fair, from as near as I can gather, these appear to be little kids too(6 year olds etc.) … asking 6 year olds to focus on books *while* learning to knit might be a little too much compared to if we were talking about adults who could easily create a knitting book club. Also, where I live, we do have rec centers and community centers which are purpose built for these activities, and are often as underutilized as libraries. I do hope that the article meant educational video games though. That part did sting a little.

  114. Can’t argue with your points. Knitting lends itself to discussion & thought very well. Having a club that’s centered around a book as you knit is like a double whammy(in the best way) for the brain. I love the idea!
    The Video night? Don’t see the encouragement to read in that one… maybe it’s just the Knitter in me, but really….video games?!?

  115. Thanks for brining this up. I am currently a student in Library School and I find this incredibly interesting. I think anything that brings kids into the library, including video games, is worthwhile. Many studies show that while the kids are there doing non-traditional library activities, they interact with librarians and get suggestions for books and end up taking more books home than they ever would have if they had just gone to the library on their own (or not gone at all).
    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to mention your blog post on my blog (which is interestingly enough called libraryknits!)

  116. Would it be awful to confess that since I’ve taken up knitting again, I read a lot fewer books than I used to? As it turns out, I cannot do both things at once. I do listen to audio books from time to time but that doesn’t really feel the same.
    With this in mind, it would be very hard for me to take umbrage with a library for removing a craft activity (that I happen to know has reduced my own book consumption) in favour of wider appeal, more literacy oriented events.
    It is a place with a different focus. Actually, I cannot think of a group that I know of, that meets in a library. Here it tends to be cafes, yarn stores and people’s houses. My friend Mel, runs an after school knitting club at the place where she works.
    I wonder whether this highlights a lack of other, accessible, safe, comfortable, quiet, supervised community facilities for young people to meet and do things like crafts together – the library ends up being the place that people go to in the absence of there being anywhere else.
    Rather than be cross with the library, why not cast an eye wider afield locally for an alternative venue where the group can meet. If not a community centre, why not a local yarn store – the place that many of us meet on a regular basis. Where they may be able to get more input on ideas, then help and assistance with projects as well?

  117. I’m with the library. Though I do think they should cut the video night too unless it is along with a book club were they read the book and then watch the movie based on the book.
    Seems like knitting and other crafts should be part of a community Rec Center program.

  118. And a PS: I did my best to acquire all the craft books I could when I was selecting for that area. Knitting, crochet,quilting, embroidery, cross-stitch, etc., etc., even Fimo! Our theory was, “If it gets them reading, it’s good.”

  119. I think the option of having a knitting/book club is a great idea. Very often I read and knit at the same time.
    The arugment that “if we do it for one group, we have to do it for others” is valid – even if we don’t like it personally. It isn’t a great stretch from “if you let knitters, why not scrapbookers?”, then “if you let croppers, you why not model plane builders?”, then ” if you let model plane builders, why not potters with portable wheels?”
    I realize that I am taking this to an extreme, but often people do just that. The library staff is probably not against knitting at all and probably wouldn’t mind a group of knitters in principle: we are quiet and the most we’d leave behind accidentally would be a scrap of yarn or a misplaced dpn. But if they let the knitters, the croppers and model builders and potters want in, too. And they aren’t as natively neat as knitting.
    Scrapbooking has glues and inks and is potentially more messy. Model airplane glue sticks to everything and has a pungent odor. Pottery wheels fling clay.
    The library staff is saving themselves lots of headaches with their policy, I’m sure.
    Go ahead, knitters: form a book club. If I wasn’t 2500 miles away, I’d join you.

  120. I don’t really think there’s anything more to say. If the library was banning the knitting club straight up I might be a little ticked, but since the librarian is just asking them to give it a bookish twist: no problemo. This way the little girls can expand their knitting repertoire and their reading repertoire. It is a library after all.
    The thing I do find a little odd is that they’re having a video game night. Completely unrelated to the knitting group, but… video games in a library? I’m not sure how that focuses kids’ attention on books. Maybe: the library has video games therefore the library is cool?

  121. I can understand if the library had a person dedicated to ‘hosting’ these girls and with resource shortages it’s hard to dedicate a person to this. That being said, why couldn’t the girls just go sit there as a group near the craft section of books and reference the materials, etc? Perhaps with a parent nearby to observe/contain the potential noise?
    In an age when children are looking more and more to the internet/computers to find information, why not let them consider the library as a ‘community gathering place’. If the girls are coming weekly that’s a target audience for creating interest in different books – ie setup displays of ‘book of the month’ aimed at certain age groups, reading clubs, reading challenges, etc As well, being there weekly will also make the staff familiar to the girls, which will eliminate any ‘fear’ of asking questions when they need to do school homework research, etc.

  122. I’ve got to agree with you, Stephanie. If they’ve got a knitting club, then why not a mosaics club? In the library? With glue? Surely the community has another place where this knitting club can carry on. I don’t think the idea of discussing books with new knitters, whilst knitting, is really all that workable anyway; I’d imagine that the interruptions for dropped stitches, etc. would really undermine the discussions.

  123. I was on the library’s side (because, after all, libraries are about reading and quiet study) until I read the bit about having a “video game night” to attract younger readers. If that is within their mandate, then surely knitting should fall within the same reasoning, shouldn’t it?

  124. It is sad, but I think the library has a point. With limited resources their focus has to be reading…. that’s what the library is all about. Now, that said, there are ways to tie arts and craft projects to reading.. the libraries here do it all the time (I live in the Niagara area) and I worked as a reporter for a local paper and we covered activities like that all the time.

  125. I completely agree with you. I’m sure there were people who objected when they brought knitting in in the first place. You can’t please everyone.

  126. My local libary’s (Illinois, USA) video games are all reading-skill based. Computer programs that build reading skills and phonetics and typing skills as well. They’re mostly geared towards younger kids. I’m not sure about this library, but it could be that they’re educational.
    Also, there are a lot of novels about knitting. These kids could chose a knitting book and discuss while knitting.

  127. I fear that I may be in support of the library’s decision, mostly for budget and space reasons. As shameful as it is, library budgets get totally shafted. They need programs to promote literacy as much as possible, and while I am a firm supporter that knitting promotes critical thinking skills, pattern development and mathematical skills, a group solely knitting isn’t enough to constitute a library program when the resources are needed elsewhere.
    That said, I love the Harlot’s idea of having stories being read while knitting. Stories about knitting, maybe, or maybe just stories. It will certainly teach them to multitask and develop more in-tuned listening skills to gain meaning of texts.
    As I am an avid knitter myself, I can’t believe that reading patterns promote literacy. Pattern reading promotes following directions and critical thinking, but not literacy. At least, by itself.

  128. Every community library system has its own special issues, budgets, abilities and priorities. I think that article was too short and focused to give its readers enough information to form objective and educated opinions. Are they a large or small communitee? How big are the libraries? How many chairs and tables are available? Does the town have a community center that can better accomodate art & craft clubs? Were they having a problem with other craft groups in the library? Were the scrapbookers getting out of line? Did some beaders have a bead fight? Did their potter club have a clay stomp in the library?
    My local libraries are very small. A couple are still located in very old houses. There is barely enough room for books, a few tables and chairs and a couple computers. My library would not be able to accommodate any sort of art or craft club. So, IMHO, to be able to get together with friends at the library to discuss books and knit would be an awesome thing.

  129. I haven’t read comments on this, but I am happy to see you (once again) step in with a voice of reason, logic, and clear thinking. I agreed with every word of your argument, and I think the staff should honor you with a torchlight parade for making their case so intelligently.

  130. One of my friends in Seattle emailed me to complain about this happening as well! Just goes to show how far crafters’ indignance will travel.
    I’ve been thinking about it again too, and in the end I do fault the library for being biased – not just against knitting, but being against a children’s knitting group, and a _girl’s_ knitting group. (If it had been an adult group, would they have been turfed?) In their discussion of their new mandate they identify video games as one part of their new direction in programming. I ask myself why would a library that is apparently so bent on literacy activities, favour video games? Could it be because video games attract boys? One wonders.

  131. Just to add information to Mylene at 11:33am entry.
    Currently is is a branch library that is open Tue. to Sat. and on part-time hours, ie. Sat. 10am to 1pm. There are 17 other branches in this county system, and they are all located in small towns/communities.
    Many years ago, I think I visited this branch and it was a small library. I recall it had only one room for the books, shelves, chairs, tables, patrons, & etc. I think there was only one librarian and a page to shelved books.
    If it had the resources such as space,staff and hours; I’m sure it would welcome this group as well as others.
    Perhaps something can be done when new programmes are planned.
    (Sorry for the information ramble, I thought some people might like the background context).

  132. Though I am saddened by the loss of a knitting program in a library (how cool is that idea?) I agree that the ultimate purpose of a library is to provide books. And so many of them are cutting corners to make ends meet, and I will admit to being glad they chose to eliminate the crafts over the books. Hopefully the children will continue to knit, even if it’s not in the library.

  133. Just a thought, maybe they could continue the knit club on video game night as well. An addition to draw even more kids in?
    I know, I know…but I feel for Kingston & her friends.

  134. I would be happy to have a library focused on books (though I don’t understand the video games either). Our library’s children’s section is chock full of toys. Any idea how hard it was to interest my preschooler son in the BOOKS instead of the trains and blocks?! And now that he is older, he gravitates toward the videos instead of books. While the intent may be to attract kids to the library, I find it attracts kids to the toys and videos.

  135. OK, did I miss something, like, where are the parents of these girls that are knitting? I would make sure a parent (or responsible adult knitter) was there to supervise and assist the girls. I would never let my 8 year old go to the library by himself. To many busy streets to cross.
    I’m kind of torn between the video game thing, because my son (also ADHD) has improved in concentration and problem solving by playing video games.
    Gah, I hate logical arguments!

  136. Oh Geez –
    Our library has a community room, available for free, or nominal cost to any group that wants to gather for “educational” purposes – the caveat being that the public be invited… that means that our local fiber guild meets there once a month, and anyone can come in and ask questions and/or observe. It also means that the local Rotary club, for all their good works, cannot meet because their meetings collect dues and are for members only. The library staff does not attend or assist in any way at the meetings.
    Somehow I’m suspecting that a few parents are dropping their little girls at the library to take part in an activity with only library supervision. The library staff aren’t babysitters (and ages 6-10 definitely fall into a category of needing to be watched). Another commenter wrote, and I agree, that 2 hours is a very long time for most kids that age do do a single activity.
    So if the knitting girls want to come and knit, they must have adult supervision, be open to the public and have a set time for the calendar.
    I have to agree that the library’s budget would be much better spent promoting library stuff, instead of arts & crafts… they might suggest the above scenario (take a small collection of $1 each to help the library while you’re at it). I’m sure if the library has the facilities available they’d be totally open to it!
    As a library volunteer, I think the little knitting group has to think about giving as well as receiving. Offer to help tidy the children’s area before or after they meet, or like I suggested above, take a collection to help the library.

  137. I see your point except I’m squirming here a bit.
    My county’s libraries all have several meeting rooms that do serve the community more as a meeting place than strictly a library. I’ve been there for parenting groups, preschool board meetings, the local master gardeners have Q and A’s as well as story times and book clubs. I think I would classify that aspect of our systems as “community center” in that respect and can’t think of any other place locally that these groups could go unless they were allied with specific churches.
    So, for my community I think that sort of re-focus would be tragic even if it was understandable due to limited resources.

  138. Since I run a nonprofit arts organization with diminishing public (budgetary) resources, I have lately had to make some tough decisions like the librarian in question has done. In each instance the “why don’t you do this/that/the other thing” has had to be weighed against our central mission and the largest benefit for all. In our town, btw, the museum holds the crafts program(s) and the library the literacy ones, and the librarian and I have a good enough relationship that if an idea comes my way that is best suited to the library (and visa versa), no matter how smashing or popular an idea it might be (like, say, bringing Philip Roth back to Newark for a reading) I send it to the library, out of respect for our individual missions and limitations. For a library to be a community center is appealing, especially if it is the only non-profit in a particular geographic region. But if it is not funded to do so, than it must cleave to a mission of being able to do well what it is chartered to do and thus continue to stay in business. The unanswered question here is what other resources are in this particular town and what other umbrella might a children’s knit group better fit under?

  139. Completely with you, except for the repeated reference to “little girls”. Teaching boys to knit is no less valuable to me.

  140. I think the problem here is largely one of semantics, and it’s hard to tell how yellow the journalism is and how much that skews the story. The *article* refers to a “ban on knitting” whereas the head of the library is quoted as saying something quite, quite different. To me this screams of sensationalism on the part of the journalist – not letting the facts stand in the way of a good story and an attention-grabbing headline. It sounds as though the actual policy is far more reasonable than it’s made to appear here; a matter of shifting emphasis back toward the purpose of the institution, rather than one of deliberately and cruelly oppressing practitioners of our craft.
    If it were really a “ban on knitting” I would find it deeply offensive – but patently it is no such thing.
    (Then again, I haven’t read or heard anything on this subject from any other sources, so I may be putting the wrong “spin” on limited data.)

  141. I’ll go one better on the forming of a book club and knit while discussing the book. Form a book club around the knitting books in the library and knit while discussing the knitting books. End of problem.

  142. At first reading the article the other day, it did make me upset that they were denying the girls knitting space and putting the video games in. But, I remembered that my son learned to read because of video games he wanted to play over 15 years ago! I do think the girls can come up with another place or form a book club at the library.

  143. Nicely put.
    And I agree with you and a library’s focus on reading.
    (Right up to the mention of video games. Sheesh, talk about shooting themselves in the foot.)

  144. As many people have indicated, it wasn’t so good to say the girls can’t knit because it is not literacy based, then make the comment about video games, BUT as another poster indicated, video games are getting a lot of attention in the library world (see the Shifted Librarian) as a means of getting young people into the library. Also, as this is “cutting edge” type stuff, more funding is out there for these initiatives. I do believe the Conservatives are going to dole out cash for literacy initiatives, so spun right, this will provide money.
    I also wonder if the reason the knitting was shut down was based on supervision. As many mentioned, most staff at public libraries do everything and much more so this might have been a craft too many. I’m not sure all the ins and outs of having adult supervision in a public setting, but this might be yet another barrier (police checks…?).
    Libraries are trying to redefine themselves as civic spaces so it’s a work in progress to see what works and what doesn’t.

  145. The unanswered question in all of this: how are the library goals (increased literacy) assessed? Based on the article, I have no idea what the data are – attendance? Number of books checked out? Reading level of each participant? No, it seems to me this is really a budgetary decision – there are too few participants to warrant the money for staff and overhead. Truth in advertising – the bottom line is what counts, not advancing literacy.

  146. I agree… focusing on literacy is not a bad thing. But they lost me with this sentence: “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”

  147. I understand the policy of the library. I don’t like it, but I understand it. I also agree with the library worker who suggested that they form a book club based on reading and knitting. There are plenty of books out there related to knitting that the members of the knitting club could read and then discuss. Heck, what is to say that the reading has to be about knitting. Why not just have a teen book club at which it is o.k. to knit while you discuss books.

  148. The libraries in San Francisco have knitting and spinning programs. The crucial point is (if I am not mistaken) that they are run by volunteers. As someone who spends all her time at a city run animal shelter, I know that the government likes to cut budgets where people don’t see the effects. Most of the programs at the shelter (like to foster program and feral cat socializing) are run entirely by volunteers. I don’t see why someone who really believes in the knitting program can’t volunteer to organize and run it.

  149. Just bought your calendar and am loving reading it (there is no way I’m waiting until January and then reading a page a day!). Any chance it will be put into a book format to make it easier to keep and re-read? When is your other book due out? Keep up the great work!

  150. As a librarian and a knitter I can see both sides of the issue, and while I would like to encourage knitting in my library space if it was possible (given that I currently work in a tiny specialized scientific library), I understand the strain that library resources are under in most municipalities. I have, in the past, had to cancel programs that were near and dear to my heart because other programs could use the same resources to make a larger impact. I would encourage the young knitters and their families to try to find an alternate location or to change to fit into the new library policy.

  151. As a librarian & knitter, I get nervous when people who never use a library or fund it or care for it suddenly want to march against it. Rmember this is just one library. Obviously it is underfunded. So instead of marching on the library, march on the funding agency and demand more money for the library so that it can do literacy programs as well as knitting and crafts for kids.

  152. I read this before I found any debates on ravelry or elsewhere; for the most part I agree.
    The fact that the library is allowing them to have a knitting-book-club should solve the problem right there, really. If they don’t want to do that or the reading skills of the children vary too much, a community centre, school, or LYS is an extremely logical place for a knitting group.
    I would then question the merits of the video game night, as many have done before me. Its only advantage over a knitting group is that it would ostensibly draw in more kids and would attract a different demographic of kids. since I don’t know what kinds of games or what other library-related components are part of the video game night, it’s hard to argue further for or against it. I think that some knitting and some video games can be very good for your brain; that doesn’t mean either one should be part of the library.
    Libraries are not solely about literacy. They are about information. People can get upset over the lack of books and such, and in some places it’s certainly pretty bad, but multimedia and electronic resources are an important part of modern library services. Other activities taking place, at least at my library, include concerts, debates, lecture series, book clubs, library skills workshops with a specific focus (say genealogy or medical information) and so on. To my mind, neither a video game night or a knitting club is appropriate as a library activity (if they are simply renting space that’s another matter).

  153. I’m not really sure what the problem is with a library advocating for literacy/book related groups. As the library manager pointed out, they could form a book & knitting club. Why not read and knit?

  154. I tend to agree that the library has the right, and, arguably, the duty, to promote literacy by using its space for reading-related events. I’ve already joined the large group of people wondering what video games have to do with literacy, but put that aside for the moment. I almost always bring my knitting to book group (held in someone’s house), so the suggestion of creating a book group at which people can knit if they wish seems reasonable. (Who knows? The kids might come to enjoy the book discussion as much as the knitting.)
    Failing that, is there a community center or school or other public building to which this group could reasonably move? In a lot of smallish towns the library tends to double as a community center because it’s the only public building that’s not a business (you don’t have to buy anything to sit in it) that is centrally located and can easily accommodate small groups and classes. My town doesn’t have a community center, and any resident can sign up to use a conference room in the library for any purpose that doesn’t interfere with the library’s primary mission (i.e. that’s not messy or loud). Knitting groups and classes have in fact met there. (What you can’t do is book a room for a recurring time slot; you have to do it each time you want to meet. This is inconvenient enough to encourage people to find other venues.)

  155. I support the library for in the knit whilst discussing books. The Librivox programme is AWESOME, free, and teaches our young knitterlies to listen, PAY ATTENTION and knit at the same time. They can then take what they heard, talk about their chosen read in group and about how it affects their life. Who expects 6-10 year olds to talk about one subject for more then 10 minutes anyway? Now, there should NOT be anything available for videogames. That is ridiculus! If the kids want to play video games they can use their parent’s energy and electronics not the ones my tax dollars have paid for. They can come to knit group—or paint group—or read a book group. What a novelty!

  156. The article said it would ban funding for the class, if I read it correctly. That doesn’t mean they’re going to ban the children from knitting at the library.
    It means that they will have to buy their own supplies and find someone from the community who will teach them and buy their supplies.
    I’ve been a teacher for over 3 years and it’s not easy or cheap. That said, any knitters feeling particularly inspired to take up that torch?

  157. Yes, balance, perspective instead of torches and marching – GOOD
    I appreciate the fact that you use your super powers for good and not evil – lol (mostly)
    There are so many knitting books that it would be super easy to do what the Librarian suggested. Another thing, someone should offer to teach the Librarian to knit, so she can understand all the hullabaloo – like you said, most mortals don’t get it. (she needs to be assimilated)

  158. I’m on the library’s side, although I predict they will change their policy – these things are always in flux. With a small staff and short hours, they have to try different ideas to get the most bang from their buck. I am a librarian who runs a knitting club, and I’m lucky enough to have community volunteers to help me teach, occasional donated materials from LYS, and a bit of support from the “Friends of the Library”. Without that help, I couldn’t have the knitting club – we don’t have a supply budget.
    For all of you who are up in arms about this issue, I say volunteer your services to your local library. If your existing knitting group is willing, consider having a regular meeting at the library. Ask to speak to the library branch manager, and give her a proposal explaining what your knitting group can do for the library. Offer to show up for each knitting club meeting, teach knitting, teach pattern writing, coordinate charity projects, etc. Explain the benefits of teenagers having a positive intergenerational experience. Talk about the math skills the kids will gain. Make the focus be on how your group can help the library and the kids. Present your group as an asset to the library, and the library manager might see eye to eye with you.

  159. Literacy point taken, but how about VOLUNTEERS leading the knitting group, and the library offering (just) the space?
    Knitting has way too much to offer to just dis it completely like this.

  160. I tend to agree with your latter comments, that the library can do with its resources what it feels fits its mission the best. I also think that it’s a great idea that the mother in the article had to incorporate a book club with the knitting club.
    I agree with at least one other commenter who said that we really shouldn’t blame the library. Maybe someone in the community who is upset by the knitting group being broken up should volunteer to run the knitting group.

  161. Libraries are shifting the emphasis from books to information as there are so many formats avaiable now for dispensing information.
    But I can’t understand banning knitters and inviting video game players.
    For the graduate student who can’t find suitable books in the public library. Each type library concentrates on acquiring materials for their users. I am a librarian whose MLS was earned in the School of Library and Information Science.
    I have worked in an elementary school library, a public library and a college library. They have three distinctly different users and completely different collections. And I cannot see video games in either case.

  162. Hmm. I’m not a raging feminist, but I think the thing that bothers me the most is:
    Knitting group = girls = unimportant
    Video game night = boys (mostly) = best thing ever
    The idea is to get more children in the library, yes? The girls are there to knit, grab a few books before they leave, read all week, and come back for more. If the video game players are at all like my brother, they won’t even read the directions for the game.
    I understand that the library has finite resources and has to use those resources the best it can. I hope it does persuade more video gamers (boys) to read. I’m just not sure that reaching one group is worth sacrificing the other.

  163. Wouldn’t a room of video game players be noisy?
    The library may be the only public place left where you are not bombarded with someone else’s taste in music.

  164. I used to work in a library and have seen all sorts of “clubs” come to use the space. We’ve had Yugi-Oh tournaments and long sessions where the local children would come and try to kill each other via Internet gaming.
    I agree that the library should not have to put up the time or staff to support the girls’ knitting group. It would be just as easy for them to knit in a community center or someone’s house since they don’t actually need anything in the library except the table. What about their LYS?
    On the other hand, I don’t see why the girls can’t continue meeting at the library on their own, especially since the library has already decided that even though gaming isn’t technically literary, they will still allow it to appeal to the younger set. Provided that they didn’t use space that had been reserved for other more literary uses and they were as well behaved as they say, there shouldn’t be any reason to turn them out. We had clubs meet for the most random things. They used our tables but did no harm and cost no money. They met independently, and our staff didn’t really need to do anything with them.
    So, in conclusion, I don’t see why the girls shouldn’t use the library if they aren’t in the way and don’t use library resources. I also don’t see why the girls can’t use another space.
    The fact the the library still allows gaming isn’t working too well in their defence, though. The double standards are showing.

  165. Most of us read a pattern while knitting……beside the fact that you read & have to understand the written info, you must use other skills while understanding your knitting pattern……….a lot of skills are involved in knitting that we don’t think about while just thinking about making a stitch…….
    Video night……are there sub titles to read ????
    What does that have to do with anything……I love seeing young people learning this skill, & they are so proud of themselves…..so they are reading while knitting, & it takes a special skill to read & then master those written words…….

  166. As a person who has taught learn-to-knit nights regularly at a public library, I can tell you that over the past few years, I have seen it go from, paid by the city to paid by the Friends of the Library organization. There is such a squeeze on resources, it is unfortunate that these things have to happen. Money goes elsewhere. That’s the real crime here. The knitting group and ban (love that skewed language in the paper, Arts and Craft Ban – imagine a no pipe cleaner zone. Glitter Free Libraries) well it’s just a symptom of the bigger problem. Can’t speak for Canada, but here in the US, it’s the underfunding and budget cuts of public services like libraries.

  167. That article mentions that they’ve added a video game night at the library while getting rid of knitting…Why do they consider a video game night to be advancing literacy?
    I also can’t understand why the girls can’t just keep showing up at the library at the appointed time with their knitting in hand…is there no one willing to work with them anymore?

  168. O.K. I’m a service development librarian here in Scotland and I have to say we’re willing to do almost ANYTHING to get kids of any age through our doors. We have warhammer gaming nights and homework clubs and I don’t see anything anti-library about encouraging a group of youngsters to cross the door and just BE in the bloody place! It’s a community fricking facility for the love of Galway!

  169. Oddly enough, knitters aren’t actually entitled to take over all public spaces or the space-time continuum (though string theory takes on a whole new meaning when you think about it that way). That said, there are few public places my parents would’ve felt comfortable dropping me off for hours at at time. The library was one of them (and both parties preferred it that way). Making one small adaptation by making it a book club in order to keep their space isn’t terribly difficult or even much to ask, I believe. It’s win-win for both the library, who stays true to being about literacy, and the group, which gets to keep on knitting with an added element and a new path to learning.
    One thing I didn’t see in the article was someone stepping up to offer a safe, semi-secure and comfortable alternative. Why not? Because there are costs involved? Is it fair to add the cost of that to a public resource already likely at or over capacity on budget? I don’t believe it is.
    All things must adapt and change, or perish. Six may be a bit young to really have that point driven home by random strangers on the intarwebs, but it’s not a bad lesson to learn.

  170. Count me in on the chorus who had no problem at all with the library wanting to focus on literacy-based programs. Up to the point where they started talking about video games. Video games are pretty much on par with knitting in being oriented towards literacy. You have to read patterns, after all!

  171. I reiterate that the article didn’t get specific about how much involvement the library staff had in the Itch n Stitch group, but the fact that it WAS library budgeted indicates that there was some direct staff involvement. And I also agree with an earlier writer that way to many parents dump and go (use the library as a babysitter). That said if the parents of these girls were willing to re-organize and run the ‘program’ themselves I’m reasonably sure the library wouldn’t have a problem with the children meeting in their facility.
    As to the video game debate. Years ago, I used to play a multi-user domain game computer game, namely Major Mudd, which was played on a BBS (bulletin board service) and was in DOS, pre-graphics. With DOS you read every line of action and dialogue, you used your imagination to ‘see’ the forest, the city, the other characters because it was all described in written form. Then game GRAPHICS, and that all changed, it was nothing more than watching a cartoon online, and also the people that I played with no longer had to be there. Coders had been able to make ‘scripts’ that enabled their characters to endlessly loop areas to gain experience and loot to level up and up and up without ever being around to actually play the action. I got bored with no one to play with, an quit playing. I found real life activities to do…. like knitting and reading.
    BTW we invented texting shorthand, the cell phone junkies have no clue of the codes we used.

  172. I would be far more in agreement with the library if they hadn’t scheduled time for a bunch of kids with video games. I don’t see how that promotes literacy.
    Aside from that, the local school system where my parents lived in New Jersey was so bad that they never bothered to teach my brother to read (or anything else for that matter).
    He learned to read because my mother helped him buy a junked car, bought him the manual for it and then refused to read it to him. He had to learn to read in order to fix the car.
    My mother was a firm believer in the idea that if you gave a person a reason to do something that they would learn to do it. She said so many times and she was right.
    Which leads me to knitting and crafts. How many people do knitting and other crafts without having to read instructions or a pattern? This comes under the heading of giving people a reason to learn to read.
    As an instrument to promote literacy, the knitting club is a much better idea than the video games.
    The kids who like video games will do it whether the library supports it or not. And while they’re playing, they’ll be doing it alone.
    The knitters might continue knitting, but it won’t be a group endeavor and will remove a lot of the fun connected with it.

  173. Libraries and other public organizations are loosing money through funding cuts and price increases. And though it is sad the children lost their spot I have to say that a library is for reading and literacy. I do not agree with adding the video games.
    I do agree with the comment of the resources used for the group. How much of it was being taken up by meny and staff time. Maybe the group could donate to the library for the space? Or make bookmarkers and items to help raise money for the library?
    At the end of the day the library is for reading and learning about crafts but not necessary to do crafts. In the US, I have seen this trend often – sad but true.

  174. It was unclear whether the knitting group had a library staff member with them or whether they were merely meeting there. I totally understand not having the budget for a staff member to moderate/teach a knitting group, but the idea of a book discussion with knitting sounds like a great idea. Thanks for articulating opposing viewpoints. Too often people’s emotions get involved and the fur flies, leaving the brain idling somewhere far behind.

  175. Well, the author of that article certainly fulfilled their mission to rile up the public while giving a just vague enough account so that we don’t have all the facts to make an informed decision and can just go with our gut instinct one way or the other (although clearly the author was on the side of the little girls). Thanks Stephanie for pointing out the reasonable approach.
    It’s a tempest in a teapot. Apparently, they haven’t banned the girls from knitting in the library, only asked them to put a book on the table while they do it. And the juxtaposition of the phrase stating the library would have a video game event was meant to do exactly what it did, rile people up without giving them the facts. We know nothing about resources spent on either one of these activities, the library staff’s reasoning behind allowing videogaming, the age group of the younger crowd etc.
    If we took all this energy that we are focusing at one little branch library in Ontario and instead went out and started kids knitting clubs in our own neighborhoods, I think that would ultimately impact a lot more knitters, create more literacy and be more positive and productive than speculating about the motives of a library that, very likely, is not one we’ll ever even visit.
    We, as knitters, are a large community with a lot of power. We could blast this little library to bits in a media frenzy, or we could take this as an incentive to help kids in our own neighborhoods have a place to knit. Knitters Without Borders proves that we can accomplish a huge amount when our energy is focused. I’d love to see us focus our energy in a way that promotes both libraries and knitting, and supports knitting clubs everywhere.

  176. As a librarian – I have to wonder if its not a budget issue… There are LOTS of knitting librarians… in fact if I had to guess a percentage, I would say that about 75% of the librarians I know are crafty people… seems to fit the personalities (well ok – so I’m talking public services people (reference, instruction,etc) rather than tech services (cataloging, etc) so that might make a difference…) But still – the point is – in general we’re a knitting crafty bunch (Case in point – my librarian friends are much more likely to know who the Yarn Harlot is than any of my other friends – and not because of the books – because most of us are academic librarians and we don’t get to have crafty books in our libraries in general)
    So I’d say – give the library a bit of a break – if you knew how many public libraries are shutting down and/or cutting hours drastically – you’d realize that most of them are having horrendous budget crunches – and its easier to get budget money for literacy programs than craft ones, obviously…

  177. If the video game players will be hopefully taking out books, which I doubt, why not the knitters or other crafters? It wasn’t clear to me if the girls just came on their own or if it was a class set up by the library, which would be kind of sad since the girls were enjoying it, no matter how few girls there were. Why can’t libraries promote books to get people in?

  178. As a public children’s librarian, I’m on the fence here. I think the article is leaving out some pertinent information, mainly:
    1) How many girls belonged to this group?
    2) Are the girls meeting in the library’s program room and are they being led and supervised by a library employee, or are they just meeting in a study room on their own?
    3)How long have the video games been in the library collection?
    If there are only a few girls in the group, then I can totally understand where the library is coming from, especially if the girls are using the library’s program room to gather and are being supervised by a library employee. I deal with issues like this one all the time. You have what you think is a wonderful program idea, but as the months go by, you realize that there just aren’t that many kids who want to come. If that’s the case here, I don’t think it’s right to demand that the library take up valuable space and employee time to host the program when there are so many other programs out there that would be more popular.
    As for the video games, it could be that they are brand new in the collection and that they were bestowed upon the library as a gift, or that the decision to include them in the collection was made at a higher level than the actual library. I deal with this issue as well — the beauracracy that allows the county administration to make decisions regarding budgets, donations, programming, and collection development that may or may not be in the best interest of a particular library.
    Bottom line: I think that the library has the right to decide what programs it wants to include within its premises. And I think the idea of girls discussing a different book each week while they knit is a great idea. As a librarian, I would never even dream of going to one of the local yarn shops to meet there with a few of my friends and discuss books that have nothing to do with knitting, unless we were meeting there to knit as well. And Steph? No, just because you or I disagree with someone’s opinion does not automatically make any one of us wrong.
    Ok, off the soap box.

  179. Video games draw a larger demograrphic of people into the library then knitting, simple sad fact. And libraries need to draw in the people. Video games give then more bang for their buck than knitting.

  180. There does seem to be a need for more information. That the library is using resources and asking the group to somehow include books/reading in return for using those resources that have a reading/books focus isn’t out of line to me. If that is unacceptable to the knitting group, what about other community locations – schools? Churches? I wouldn’t think the library was the only location possible.

  181. I remember growing up in rural Maine. I read all of the time and pretty much anything I could get my hands on. My brother was a much more physically active child and to get him to read a book it had to be either tied into a media he was using (video games or television) or be about sports. I’m sure that the video game night is to tap a relatively large group that under-utilizes books.
    It’s hard to make a library budget that can pass muster at a town meeting. Libraries and schools are two of the areas that get cut first in short-sighted attempts to save money. Pretty much have to agree with Aria on this one – it’s always easier to convince a town board to allocate money to a literacy program than a community program.

  182. While I understand that, with the new revamp of library usage, there may not be room for the wee little knitters, I’m appalled at the fact that they are “focusing on literacy” by starting a video game club! If there’s room for that, surely there is room for the knitters! But I think turning it into a book club/knitting club might be a very happy compromise.

  183. Reading the article leaves me some questions. Is the Library spending any special resources (like assigning staff or a special room) to support the Itch and Stich gang? If not, why would it matter if the girls are there? I go to my public library pretty often, and the desks and tables include people doing their taxes and pecking away on laptops, not to mention the take-no-prisoners chess game going on at the periodicals table. It doesn’t seem to upset my local librarians as long as folks aren’t kept from enjoying the books. I think we should encourage all youngsters to think of libraries as fun, interesting, welcoming places to go. And then, if the library would just display a few knitting books….

  184. The video game night to get new patrons into the library does not sound like a weekly event, as the girls’ knitting group is. i agree with the library, and I think Ms. Haley is trying to help the girls by suggesting morphing the yarn club into a knitting book club. I’m sure that the staff feels they are responsible for these girls (i.e., supervision) while they are in the library, even if they are a well behaved group. If the girls don’t want to discuss books and knit, they should consider other venues–each others homes, Starbucks, book stores, Panera’s (all places my book club has been welcome to meet and discuss books while a few of us knit along to the discussion), or a knitting store.

  185. What’s fun about you is that you’re principled without being doctrinaire. Keeps the conversation lively.

  186. I completely understand the need for the library to cut back and only have literary activities in their space. But what i don’t get is why knitting group= bad because of no relation to books but video game group= no problem. If the library was consistent with their banning of non-literary activity then i would be 100% behind their decision. But, as it stands, it sounds like they are just discriminating against knitters. Which is crap.

  187. I’m a reader and a knitter, and while I love it when those two worlds intersect (knitting in the library while listening to podcasts and audiobooks comes readily to mind), it’s not necessary to my peace of mind that there be a place for each in either one. Books are books, and that’s what the library’s for. If they have to choose between buying more books or paying for me to knit there, I vote for the books; I can knit anywhere, and the world is vast.
    The video game thing does bug me as it bugs others–in spite of their reasoning, I find it hypocritical. Offering new and interesting programs to grab greater audiences is understandable, but I still don’t feel video games are any more relevant to the library than knitting would be. Film, maybe, but I just don’t see it with video games. It just feels like a desperate ploy to be hip and relevant, at the cost of diluting an institution into an entertainment center. If they’re going to refocus their resources on newer efforts, can’t they choose something literacy-based? Local theater companies performing scenes from classic plays for children? Ongoing read-aloud nights, over the course of which entire books are read by performers? Classical music programs? All of this sounds really boring when you write it down, but I went to things like this as a kid and thought they were great. Either they were, or I’m really dull.
    My point is, if you’re going to eliminate a club that’s not literacy-based, don’t add another. People can get together and discuss video games anywhere, and the world is vast.
    (One last thing before I shut up–it’s really refreshing that someone made a point of NOT going to the “I’m so persecuted” place. This is why you’re awesome, Steph. :))

  188. I was interested to see that you made comments in defense of the library but what I can’t believe is that the library is willing to have a video game night but no crafts, really do video games promote literacy more than crafts???? I don’t think so!
    I hope the girls can find a nice new place to knit like maybe in front of the library in protest along with all the other exiled crafters…

  189. Having had a little more time to think about this: what does knitting have to do with the library? Why does this knitting group need to be library-sanctioned and held on library property?
    And I don’t think combining the knitting-reading group is a great idea. Knitting ALONE is a beautiful, social activity. Making them sit quietly and listen to a book while knitting sounds too much like school.
    Proponents of the knit group argue that the girls would then check out books. Awesome. Seems like they may have been doing that anyway, even if the group didn’t meet there.
    AND! If the video gamers are not likely to frequent the library, let’s invite them in! Pandering to a fad, to be sure, but if the greater good is getting them off the sofa and in the library, I guess I can swallow it.

  190. I don’t disagree with the library developing programs to more effectively focus on their key goal, to increase literacy. But excluding a group of young knitters and including a video game night doesn’t move them toward reaching that goal.
    The idea of discussing a book while knitting would work with adults but not children of the age described. I wonder if they’ll discuss a book while playing video games??

  191. Having worked over 15 years as a children’s librarian, I had to comment on this topic. I think that the library is being short-sighted by banning all crafts. I often had children do a simple craft after my story time. I feel that the tactile experience reinforced the stories told and books read. Once after a family program which included the story Cinderella, the children made stick puppets to take home. Two children went over to a table, used it as a stage, and proceded to tell the story of Cinderella using the puppets. These children were not yet reading but were doing something that will help them when they do learn to read. Literacy is not just learning how to read but for very young children, it is becoming ready to learn how to read.
    What is not clear from the article is if the library is devoting staff and money to this or is the group just meeting there. The children should be able to meet there with parents supervising. Where I used to work, nonprofit groups could use the library’s meeting rooms for free. If the library has to allocate resources it is a different story.
    In the summer I would have craft programs based on the summer reading program theme. I did this to draw in non-readers and I did manage to get several into the reading program. Children can’t be exposed to books unless they are physically near them. Since many parents are non-readers as well, it is another way to get them to bring their children to the library. Usually the children are much more interested in looking at books than the parents. I feel that if craft programs bring children to the library, then have craft programs.
    Although the library is not a recreation center, I do feel it should be a community center – or, in a perfect world, the center of the community.

  192. My first reaction is, is this the only place in town to meet? Don’t know the size of the town but surely there’s a bookstore or cafe or church or school that would be happy to have these young knitters. Proponents made the point that they were quiet and well-behaved so they should be able to find a home anywhere. I can understand that parents may prefer the library because they feel it will be a safe environment but my sympathies are also with the Librarian and the pressure she must be feeling on her budget. More books in libraries, please. I don’t think this kind of demonization helps the knitterly image.

  193. O.K. Stephanie,here’s my two cents worth:
    I’m a recent former librarian. We had our library closed because of budget cuts, but that’s another story. I had a small library in a very small town, and not very many libary patrons because of such. Literacy was not big on anyone’s list there. So, to get the kids IN the library I used any trick up my sleeve. My aim was to get them in the library FIRST and show the wonders of reading afterward. I made my library a community center. As a matter of fact, all of the librarians in my area did. One of the ways I did this (with the kids) was to start up a kids craft day. And, no, I didn’t have the budget, but I asked for donations, and I got them! Nor did I have staff, but I asked for volunteers, and I got that too! The kids loved it! Often, after the craft session, the moms would bring the kids over to pick out a book. If it worked for me in my small library I don’t see why it can’t work in a big city. I think the libary management needs to rethink their tactics.

  194. What a great opportunity to create a book club for — drum roll please — KNITTING BOOKS!

  195. i’m with you, steph. as soon as i read the first few sentences of this post, i thought to myself “maybe i’m just oversimplifying, but why is everyone getting up in arms about this? it’s not the library’s responsibility to provide a place for people (children or otherwise) to knit. there’s a difference between LIBRARY and COMMUNITY CENTRE. unlike the latter, the former has the right to dictate that all activities taking place there pertain directly to books and literacy.”
    i just don’t get how people can scream “discrimination!” when a library has the *gall* (note my sarcasm?) to say that any groups holding meetings there must have something to do with books. and, by the sound of it, the association with books only has to be a loose one.
    and if people are so upset about the cancellation of this, why don’t they go about organizing a new knitting group for the kids? or better yet, as suggested, make the group ‘focused’ on books? an easy way to do that would be to feature a different knitting book at each gathering. the book could be an actual pattern book, a work of fiction that somehow involves knitting and/or knitters, etc. they could loosely discuss the book (if it’s a pattern book, they could take turns mentioning their favorite pattern) during the meeting. i’d think that would be a simple solution to this ‘problem’.

  196. More information: the provincial government gave a one-time grant to libraries specifically for literacy-based projects. Some libraries that were in desperate need of repairs were able to use the money to renovate and expand, by saying that the new space would be used for new literacy programs, and outreach to groups that don’t normally use the library, e.g. teenaged boys. That’s kind of a stretch already, but in the case of the crafts group, there’s no way to justify, to the funders, supporting a group with no obvious ties to literacy. As you pointed out, the simple solution is for the knitting group to declare themselves a book club.

  197. Earlier in the comments someone linked to an update article on the situation. I suggest people read that as well, since it has more detailed arguments of the ‘whys’ in this case.
    Many good points for and against in Steph’s blog and in these comments.
    From the updated article, it is clear that the ‘younger crowd’ they are trying to attract are teens, who need MOTIVATION to go to a library, in many cases (I know this because I teach this age group). It is also clear that there are some issues not related to the knitters themselves that may be part of the larger decision.
    I suspect that the literacy-based initiatives and the events, like the video game event, have a purpose of gaining funding. Many libraries and other public facilities are funded for the year based on their attendance and rates of usage. I try to spin into my library’s local branches just to turn the turnstile on some days(of course, some days I’m there for quite a while) so that their attendance goes up.
    Having a video game night to attract teens is, I would think, a way to attract a high attendance of an age group that many are trying to address. In other words, they get a lot of teens in the library for some events, they can point to that attendance and say we’re even getting ‘this’ age group into the library, so wouldn’t continuing or even increasing our funding be great?
    Also, it sounds like they are trying to highlight the literacy-based programs in order to grab attention from people who fund such activities. Here in the United States, in many places, what you say and what you highlight can often get you more funding from specific places that couldn’t give you funding in a general sense.
    In my opinion, the planners are trying to make some decisions that will give them more funding and options in the long-term, and they won’t have to deal with the worst situation of all – ‘Sorry, girls you can’t knit here at all because this library branch can’t afford to stay open anymore.’ It happens all too often – the city I live in closed branches and cut hours in other branches when it lost funding for a few years. It is not a small city, either.
    Sad that it boils down to money in a lot of ways? Yes. Torches will not help, but using your local public facilities and voting for people who will think about these local facilities come budget time will.

  198. Steph, I am with you. I can understand why the library had to make the change. If there’s no LYS in the area, the little group could find space in a church basement or community centre or someone’s home.
    I do think, however, that from time to time the library might run a craft program that focuses on a particular book — say, a new craft book release or new fiction that involves the craft. On a periodic basis, run as a special event, it would be more likely to draw in new-comers to the craft, too.
    I don’t understand the inclusion of a video game night and the exclusion of crafts. Again, a ‘vgn’ would be something I think should be done as a special event, periodically, rather than on a regular basis.

  199. Heh. Our library has a county sheriff on duty most of the year. 😎 Seriously. The high school is right next to the library and a small portion of students use the library for pretty much anything other than studying. There is one corner where the unwary might get a quick lesson in biology, if you see what I’m saying.
    Books = good. Knitting = good. Library in charge of free books. Library = good. I’m not seeing the video game night, though. Competitive Scrabble maybe, but video game night?
    I think they should just make it a the knit and read club. Each week discuss books with knitting in them. That would get them every thing from Austen to Vogue with a bit of Pearl-McPhee in between. (BTW, my niece swiped my copy of “Things I learned From Knitting.” So far she has an ipod holder and a half a hat…and great ambitions. 😎 )

  200. How about they read books about knitting and discuss? Is there an author of knitting books in the house? Anyone…?

  201. I understand limited resources, but I don’t get why the parents don’t just bring the children in to knit anyway? Our libraries don’t have ‘community rooms,’ only a reading room (silent) and a story-telling room (NOT silent!). We don’t have extra space, and community centers cost too much. But I can’t imagine a librarian walking up to anyone being even relatively quiet at a table and asking them to leave because they don’t have a book in their hands.
    And I find the video game nights absurd. Have you seen kids play video games? Mine are Never. Ever. Quiet. The one thing I – and obviously others – feel strongly about is the general calm and peace of a library; I can’t imagine how video games could fit into that. I have a hard time thinking and reading if people are talking, running, or yelling, “Score” when they win a round of Guitar Hero. I’ll be interested to hear how that one works out!

  202. sigh! why must the word “literacy” equate chore and tedium in the minds of those making decisions about such things?! libraries are FULL of non-fiction books (which are just the type of text that children LOVE! especially boys), books all about crafts such as “how-to” or “what-to” knit. doesn’t knitting involve reading patterns and thinking abstractly? both which happen to be skills considered necessary for a literate citizen.libraries should NEVER turn away children who show a genuine interest in being there! the knitting club sounds like it was a great “hook” to bring at least this small group of children inside its doors. and i would be very surprised if those children didn’t stop to browse at the end of each knitting club session and end up taking a book or movie or magazine home with them! and while the public library is not a community centre per se, just look at the number of outside groups who regularly use library space (at least in my town)making it at the very least a place of communal meeting! librarians are some of the best people in our communities. my local library and the ladies running it while i was growing up made a huge impact in my life. i can’t imagine that this decision came from the front line librarians that check out your items for you and direct you towards exactly what you are looking for. i’m sure they are just as frustrated by this shortsighted vision of a library’s place and function in the community as many as of us are.
    i know this post is running long, but i am so passionate about this topic! so let me close with UNESCO’s definition of literacy:
    “‘Literacy’ is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society.”
    Now tell me knitting doesn’t meet some of those goals!

  203. Put me down as pro concentrating on literacy. If resources are limited, then the mission of the library revolves around books first. However I’m anti video games in the library. And I think the idea of a knitting book club is brilliant!

  204. This story doesn’t seem to really give us all the information to evaluate the library’s decision. For instance, was the library providing an instructor or simply the space for the girls to meet? What other arts & crafts were being offered and again, how were these budgeted and what was the attendance?
    Overall, I agree with you and as much as I would love to see you marching down the streets with flaming torches (you’ve got to admit, it does lend itself to quite an image), I am not ready to jump on that bandwagon either.
    EXCEPT – video games to attract a younger crowd? Exactly how is that going to promote literacy and how much of said budget will be attributed to those programs? Both my boys love reading and love the library and bookstore, but if video games were an alternative choice in either location, the books would be toast.
    I’d hate to be at the library working on a project or just trying to get a slice of quiet time (depending on size of the facility) when “video game hour” is happening.
    But as I started with, these points are some what presumptuous without more information.

  205. I would encourage the girls to meet at a local Borders or other bookstore, then they can have their tea as well if they like (or not). Mine has music weekly which would be a nice accompaniment to tea and knitting. I also love the book discussion as well, except that if any of these girls need help with the knitting you’d have to interrupt the discussion.

  206. In general I think this stinks. A few things weren’t disclosed in the article. Were the girls supervised by an adult who DOESN’t work for the library? Was the library so crowded with book clubs that they needed the space? What do they mean “they aren’t going to pay” for the girls to sit around an knit? Pay for what? The library is open isn’t it? Are they handing out free food? What are they “paying” for?
    I agree with others here -grab a craft book off the shelf, set it on the table and say “Oh, I think that chapter 12 was brilliant” anytime a library employee walks by.

  207. There should be other places in the community for crafts activities. In my very, very small village (pop. ~8000) in northern NY, we have a county arts council, and in their building I’ve taken a class on spinning and a class on sewing machine maintenance. They’ve also offered classes on weaving and felting, and they have classes open to children as well as adults. Our local village museum has an open knitting day one Saturday a month when knitters of any age or skill level can show up, knit, swap yarn, get advice and help on projects, and just hang out. We also have an organization called TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York) with a rather large space. They host demonstrations and exhibits, and they sell items made by area crafters. If a local library were hosting these activities, then it would be hard for government-type people to understand our community’s needs … I would guess that a typical bureaucrat wouldn’t translate an increase in library use into a need for more funding for traditional arts programs. If knitters (or any other crafters) want recognition and access to public spaces, we need to define our creative activities for those in a position to give us financial support.

  208. It’s really not wrong of the library to want to conserve any and all resources. We’re not doing well in the US, even the universities and schools are feeling the crunch and we have been for a really long time. It’s hard to justify to the city why they are going to spend staff and resources on something that’s not about books.

  209. I’m glad that I’m not th eonly one who doesn’t see this as an example of wrongful persecution.
    It does seem as if people tend to skim articles online – at least the ones complaining that the library is claiming that games are more literacy-oriented than knitting. Just another proof that literacy is a good thing 😉
    But thank you for being a voice of reason 🙂

  210. I have to say that I’m on the side of the library.
    Just because services and resources have always been available doesn’t mean that the provider will always have a responsibility to continue. I mean, the a/c is already on at my house, but that doesn’t mean I am obligated to share it. The library isn’t banning these girls, or their knitting, or any other craft group. They are simply removing them from the calendar of “room reserved for” or “upcoming events” posters, I think. I do wish the article had more story to it.
    And video games DO have a broader appeal, but maybe they’re playing Reader Rabbit or something, because Rock Band would not be library appropriate.

  211. I am a librarian and cannot imagine anyone in the profession not being DELIGHTED to have a regular group of children meeting in their library. I doubt the library was spending money beyond the provision of the room–mine wouldn’t. Getting them in the door is the first step, then tempting them with displays, etc. These knitters will remember this and vote accordingly as adults.

  212. just saying but the impression that i got from the article was that the girls were running their own thing not using up the staffs time and only using the library as a meeting place

  213. All the girls have to do is talk about a book while they’re knitting. I know there’s a ideological discussion to be had here and, yes, the idea of video game night seems odd to me too (on the other hand there is videogame related fiction, maybe they’ll be talking about that? I digress.) But really, if all the librarian is asking them to do is talk about a book while they knit, is that so horrible? Is that so hard? They must be talking about something, why not about a book? Why go down the road of asking if it takes up time or money or anything from the library when the solution is something as simple (and wonderful) as reading a book. Steph – save your torches for another cause. Cause you shouldn’t take torches anywhere near a library.

  214. this is interesting, considering my local library has a similar knitting program in place. I think, like others, they’re trying to lure new readers into the library by introducing a video games night. And libraries aren’t just books, they have other media too.
    A couple of things to think about – was there enough interest in the knitting program? has there been a request for the video games night?
    all things to consider before jumping to conclusions.

  215. Another article with more information:
    Note, the arts and crafts classes seem to have been run by a volunteer group. So money and staff time for the library doesn’t seem to be an issue.
    Plus, turning crafting into ‘chick lit’ for 6-10 year old girls? Gag me.
    Either cull all non-book activities or require them to *all* have required reading. I’m fine with Video games, open mic, and board games if they have to discuss books like the knitting girls. How about topics in computer science, modern poetry, history, or fantasy and sci-fi novels?

  216. I was fully prepared to agree that, while I’m not crazy about their actions, the library has the right to limit it’s resources to literacy related activities until I came to the part about video games. How the hell are they literacy related? If anything, they are anti-literacy. But I see, they want to entice young people in. Well what about those 6 year old knitters? This decision doesn’t make any sense to me. I think that just about any craft is closer related to literacy (encouraging the development of brain synapses, etc) than video games which, if anything, encourage ADHD.

  217. Thank you, Harlot (and those who have commented). I am not a knitter, but have come to hear you speak in person several times.
    I have also heard you complaining about the non-knitters and their peculiar ideas about knitters. Obviously, Stephanie, you have a great passion about knitting.
    And you presented a beautiful, thoughtful piece, even though we all know you are saddened that knitting was being pushed aside for any reason.
    I can understand what the library said about literacy based activities, but like so many others here, had to give them less credit for their stated reasons once video games were included.
    Once again I am impressed with you, and your readers, for being so very thoughtful. I read about 1/2 the comments I saw, and nary a one grabbed a torch. When I see a passionate group that is willing to see the other side and speak reasonably about good solutions, I am always VERY impressed with them. I’m sick of the screamers.
    Organizing a read-to-the-group … wow. A great idea among many presented.

  218. I don’t live in Ottawa, I’m not Canadian… but I did check out the link to the follow-up newspaper article, and it gave me some more WTF moments.
    Now they’re not worried about younger groups but trying to keep the teens from wandering away from their previous library-using habits. (So the solution is to kick out the kids who are using the library, so they’re wander away sooner?)
    Ms Karen Franklin’s suggestion is now a “mother-daughter chicklit book club” where they could “share a cup of tea” and maybe even knit?
    The kids _were_ checking out and using books on knitting, and there seems to be a bit of territorialism going on regarding the (unpaid) Friends of the Library group. I wonder whether that is behind the whole mess.

  219. Oy! Seems like the library is trying to fulfill their mission with the money TAXPAYERS gave them. As a frequent, life-time library user, I’m honestly in favor of more books, literacy, reading and related activities. Scrabble improves literacy, ergo, no problem. While knitting might not hurt, there is only a tenuous link at best to it improving literacy. Seems like the librarian’s suggestion for the girls was quite reasonable. I’m also curious why a bunch of parents would rather have 6-10 year olds meeting in a library than in each other’s homes.

  220. Were the kids (and their instructors)quiet enough for the others to read and study? wondering…..
    And did they have their own space such as a room perhaps?

  221. It does seem misguided to ban any non-disruptive group from a library, especially groups of children. My daughter took a lollipop (yes, sticky candy on a stick — long story) to a quiet corner of our local library once a week for several years, read books, got an adult card at 9. Three degrees later she teaches English to teens for a pittance out of a great desire to share her love of books. Get ’em in — doesn’t matter how — and keep ’em coming back!

  222. I take issue with the idea that the library is not a community centre. I believe it is very much a community centre.
    In Canada we are obsessed with litigating our children out of the public eye – no hockey in the street, remember that one? Where do these children go? To their homes? How do they meet a nice cross-section of other children from the community that way?
    How many resources could they really be using and on top of that, which competing group is demanding that space? The video game crowd?
    And we marvel at our loss of civil society!

  223. If the new programming includes “some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd” then COME ON!! be consistent. Knitting is just as good,if not better than, video games. I think the library needs to focus on keeping kids in the library instead of sending them away – a “grandfather clause” is called for here.

  224. I admit to being a little hung up on the video games thing, but I think you make some excellent points. Do these girls have absolutely no other place to meet but the library? (Like someone’s house or another community center, or the school library?) If their group is conflicting with other literacy-centered programs, then the library sure can ask them not to meet.
    I think the book discussion idea is a good one. Maybe they could read one of YOUR books and discuss it!

  225. “This seems to me to be some sort of evidence that the woman is not on a personal mission to obliterate knitting or make little girls suffer…”
    Exactly. ‘nough said. They have a solution, the woman isn’t evil, knitting is still good.
    And, if they got the little girls interested in and learning from knitting books (whether fiction with knitting in story, or instructional), well that would just strengthen the craft for them.
    Long live literacy.
    🙂 firefly

  226. I’m not sure how the “video game nights” fit the literary mission of the library more than a knitting group. That said, I think that the girls might enjoy a book discussion along with their knitting.
    But I’ll bet ya dollars to doughnuts (Tim Hortons) that the librarian backs down, especially when he/she sees his/her words in print and observes the gap in logic.

  227. At first I was upset, but…a craft group meeting in a library doesn’t qualify as a literacy group.
    Does Canada have the equivalent of the U.S. Boys and Girls Club? Check with a Michaels or Joanns. There has to be many other places that would welcome a group of quiet children that want to knit.

  228. my knitting group meets in a neighboring community library. it is part of the library’s outreach program. however, the library does not fund the group. our group started out as a knitting class. it evolved into a weekly SnB group. this year each member knitted a square which was pieced together to make a sampler square afghan. the afghan is currently being raffled off, and the money collected goes back to the library. we did this in appreciation of the library’ generosity in providing a room for us to do the craft we love.
    that said, the majority of us knitters do use the library. i myself leave each week with a stack of books, cursing that i can’t fit them in my knitting bags!
    the library in my town also sponsored crochet classes – i really appreciated the classes as i wanted to learn to crochet as well. my library receives funding from different grants WHERE 75% OF THE FUNDS MUST GO EITHER TOWARDS BOOKS, CLASSES OR SUPPLIES. hence why my library has classes on crochet, scrapbooking, photography, etc.
    i take my son to 2 different story hours. crafts are usually a staple at each session with each project having something to do with whatever story or subject was read that day. his librarian told me that in order to receive state funding and united way funding, a certain portion of the money must go towards children’s activities, more specifically crafts.
    i think it’s sad when libraries cease activities which stimulate a child’s thinking. knitting is so good for counting, finger dexterity and motor skills, even colors. it creates an item and eventually a skill that will last a lot longer than the construction paper cheerios mosaic that is hanging on the fridge. it’s so unfortunate that libraries would rather dumb down their patrons (when the world is already doing such a good job of that) than spend a few bucks, floor space and time to (any) activity that truly is constructive.

  229. I do not think it should be a problem for the group to discuss books as they knit or crochet; it is a public library, where literacy is a concern. However, I do not know of many knitters who cannot read patterns and charts, most knitters do like to read and can do both at the same time. I think the girls should just pick a book (or even a chapter of the book) and discuss it as they knit to resolve the issue.

  230. As a library graduate student this makes me sad. So many libraries are struggling to get people in the door and I’m surprised that they would ask these girls to leave. Programs that get kids in the library doors are great and they don’t always have to be about books. If they’re willing to do a video game program, why not a knitting program? When I’m a children’s librarian, I plan on starting a knitting group what a great activity for kids to be involved with in an environment that’s not bombarding them with all of the distractions they deal with all day long.

  231. I think 6 to 10 years old is a tad young to be reading and knitting at the same time. Could the girls agree that one person read a yarn related paragraph or page, then they could discuss it. (A Yarn Harlot story would be perfect.) The knitters could take turns being the reader; the other’s could knit; the library would have young people reading in the library.
    I feel very lucky. The local library has a terrace where people hang out, young and old, and the young people seem to be using the library. They also have tons of knitting books. : )

  232. I don’t really have anything constructive to add to this; in the last 240 comments, it’s all been said. However, I would like to add “Yay Steph” for standing up for a policy that may be correct and not unjust, even if it isn’t popular.
    I agree with you in toto: knitting is good, quiet children are good (usually), and libraries are good; however, this library has decided to refocus its efforts and taxpayer-sent money on literacy and books, which are kind of its point. That’s not a terrible thing, even if it isn’t one person’s (or many people’s) personal choice.

  233. I think that anything at all that encourages young people to go to the library should be accomodated in one way or another. It would be a good chance for these youngters to read your books and discuss them while they knit.

  234. While I agree with the decisions that the library made for the sake of literacy, I think it’s truly sad that what seems to be happening here is that a group of children, using the library’s space and book resources, got caught in the middle of a power struggle between the library staff and a volunteer group. (Check out Rebecca at 12:36 for the link.)

  235. I tend to understand why the library had to deny the program, what would stop a scrapbooking, pottery painting class based on the knitting class being there. We get angry when our governments don’t provide a service, yet when we pay our taxes we scream because they are too high.
    I am sure there is a local place that could take this group under its wing. Local yarn store, fabric store, coffee shop…think of all the good PR you would get if you rescued the group from ‘the tyrany’ at the library?

  236. Another librarian here checking in – it would have been helpful if the original article had gone into any detail about how much staff time/resource was going into the group. I’m assuming some was, or there wouldn’t be a problem…
    I wonder what the “need to be more literacy-focused” is – is there more funding available from some particular pot if particular groups are attracted to the library? in which case the library couldn’t really turn it down. It sounds as if there are other funding pressures at work here and the craft group hasn’t ticked enough boxes to stay…. Which is a shame, and I hope the girls don’t give up on using the library, but the pressure on library funding all over the world is immense (which is why my local village library is now run by volunteers, largely with donated books, after we were closed down by the local authority).

  237. I’m a Library Board Trustee in my home town here in New York. I’m sure it’s not much different than a Canadian Library. We have to make decisions all the time about the best use of our limited funds. We have adult programs that cost a few hundred dollars to run but when only eight adults participate the cost breaks down to fifty dollars per person. The same thing happens with children’s programs. That is not the best use of taxpayer monies. That is really the bottom line here. The library is publicly funded through taxes and those funds need to be used first and foremost for the intended purpose of the library. The programs also have to appeal to a wide audience and be cost effective to run. Knitting is lovely and I knit socks during board meetings all the time but I do not support having a knitting club in the library. That is not what libraries are for. I would never stop anyone from knitting in the library but the library should not be funding a knitting club.
    There are local churches and schools here that rent out their basements for a nominal fee to all sorts of groups from Weight Watchers, to The Girl Scouts to Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m sure there are such places available in Ontario where the kids can meet, socialize, knit and drink tea and have cookies. The libraries here don’t allow loud talking or food and drink so the church or school basement is a better idea.
    And I’m certain the library would gladly post a notice on the community bulletin board for the new knitting club.

  238. I used to be a public library director and I’ve been a knitter forever. Libraries offer programs to attract people to the library, or to serve an unmet community need. There are a number of libraries that host knitting groups, but offering it as a class is different. The library is entitled to decide what sort of programming it can support to meet its service goals. If it is a matter of space, well, that’s a big one to get around. If it is a matter of staff time or money for supplies, then there may be a community resource they could approach to help. I think reshaping it as a book group would be worth exploring and I hope they consider it.
    I absolutely support any effort to increase reading, and if they have new ideas to try to accomplish that then go to it, folks.

  239. At least your libraries are open. Our county libraries were closed for months due to lack of funding. They have just recently re-opened and are only open 12 – 16 hours per week, depending on the branch.
    I think adding a reading twist to the knitting club is an excellent solution. It’s certainly a better idea than a video game night (video games at the library?! Honestly!).

  240. I tried to look this place up and it’s small. Really, really small. The township that contains it (and a bunch of other teeny tiny places) has a total population of about 12,500. It might have a one room library that can’t hold more than one group at a time. My town is kinda small (about 8500) and has a tiny old library with little public meeting space. Even with interest in a knitting group from both the community and the the librarian we could not find a way to make it work. So let’s keep the torches away from the tiny place with all the paper, which ignites at a little less than half the temperature that wool does (see, knitting is SAFER THAN READING) and cut this poor librarian some slack.

  241. As a librarian, I couldn’t believe this article when I read it. What I’m not sure of is if these young ladies in question are actually taking up staff time. According to the article they sit around a table and knit. It doesn’t sound like an organised library programme that would require staff to me, although I haven’t actually looked at the library’s website or anything to figure that out. If that’s the case, then there’s no reason they should be asked to leave the library–we have people meeting in the library for all sorts of other reasons, it is community space. We tend to ask people to leave our library when they start breaking things, throwing things at each other, or indulging in something illegal, but generally otherwise anything goes.
    On the other hand, even if it is a programme that requires staff time and space, you never kick anyone out of a library who is already there! Libraries are struggling to keep patrons coming through their doors. These kids brought their parents (they must have, their six to ten, and most libraries have policies about children that young not being left unattended) with them, probably some siblings, who all probably checked out books or movies while their kids were knitting. Attract new people yes, but don’t try to get rid of the ones that are already there!
    And the fact that they’re going to institute video game night? Banning knitting is silly by itself, but to be adding video game nights really undermines the point about moving closer to literacy based activities. Yes, video games are trendy right now in libraries, but knitting is a social activity, while video gaming tends to be isolating. And while it may attract a few new kids, they’re still losing the knitters and their parents and their siblings as well.
    And maybe the people implementing the decision should have approached the girls with the suggestion to discuss books while knitting BEFORE banning them from the library?
    Okay, I could go on and on about this, as a children’s librarian I find it totally laughable. Most children’s programmes are book based but include a craft component. It’s the craft that kids take home that acts as a conversation starter, and keeps kids talking about storytime, and helps create the excitement that keeps them coming back. And motor skill development is as important as anything else. You can’t separate that from literacy in very young children.
    Okay, I’m really stopping now.

  242. Over the years our library has resorted to many “non -literacy” items to promote library use.
    These include video rentals, audio book rentals,computer games(I think the actual use of computers for non-game activities in libraries is great-they block bad sites very well),summer activities like farm petting zoos and magicians . Sometimes I have a hard time seeing how these relate to literacy, but just getting kids in the door may cause them to fall over a book and read a page or two is the hope.
    I do think knitting promotes literacy. You have to be able to read and comprehend a pattern(I’m still working on that) and the math involved is a great way to introduce math to young people that may find class math boring or just not relevant to their lives(most will have to learn to balance a checkbook but not how to figure moles of 10 to the 25th power).
    I also think being the member of a group promotes knitting as a skill and hobby. Kids enjoy being together and a library is a “safe” place to gather. Our library has several conference type rooms with tables and doors that can be shut. These are available at no charge and groups can sign up for a monthly or weekly night to use the room for knitting, meetings, tutoring, etc.. Since the door can be closed, no one using the library is disturbed–the old ” no skin off my nose” if the room is occupied idea.
    Usually a knitting group that comes in costs the library nothing-they would be open anyways so even utilities are a moot point.
    And, who knows, a knitting group member may check out a book and learn something besides knitting in the process.
    Our college(Olivet College) works the same way. If the group is meeting at no cost to the college they are welcome to reserve a room weekly or monthly for any legitimate use.
    And, I checked with Jane the librarian, and she said they welcome young people to the library for just such groups-and hope they are curious enough to check out a book. While knitting may not be an actually literacy activity, it still promotes literacy through patterns,math,reading and putting young people in close quarters with lots of books. The librarian usually only greets these groups not teaches or remains with these groups.
    Libraries-They’re not just for reading anymore ! But the groups that meet should either be no cost to the library or pay a small rental fee for the reserved room.

  243. It does seem that too much information was left out of the newspaper article. And I have no desire to start a phone campaign to the library. Most libraries have enough trouble with the not enough money/employees, etc issue.
    And I don’t see the video game night enticing gamers to check out books from the library.
    My very small town North Carolina library actually had an organized craft activity once a week. It was geared towards home schooled children, but was held during traditional after school hours and all children were encouraged to attend. Part of the budget was earmarked towards this program. And not too many children left without checking out a couple of books.
    My vague point being that a craft activity can help a library. With enough community support – which this library did seem to have.

  244. I tend to agree that it’s not shocking that a library should focus on its core mission of literacy, but I want to know more about the reasoning behind turfing out a knitting group but allowing a video game group to stay put. Maybe the group plays only educational video games? [Let’s hope, eh?]

  245. If I went to the library for my knitting group or to take my child to hers, we would be very likely to pick up a book….. or two, or three.

  246. I tend to agree with the library, it should be all about books and learning. Although I do find it sad that the girls knitting group is going to have to find a new place or disband.
    As for the video game night, they probably mean more like a the new learning games that are becoming more popular like Brain Age and the like not just Call of Duty or Mortal Combat, do they still have mortal combat? anyway,
    Besides, its not like the library is discouraging the group to stop knitting and are getting rid of it because they are tired of picking up the little pieces of string, and knitting can be done anywhere that is what is so awesome about it.
    I do like the idea of putting a book along with knitting, or maybe arranging a thing like they read a book and then knit something that was inspired by the story, or that was in the book. I think that would be a really fun and creative solution.

  247. I agree. As much as I hate that the library is cutting the class, I understand about the financial end of it all. I dont paticularly LIKE it. But I understand and feel it is probably a hard decision to make for them. Times are tough financially all over. And who’s to say there won’t be a knitting book review class one day??

  248. Hello Ms. Harlot!
    I freely confess that I’m on both sides of the fence. The library is primarily a literacy thing. Books and reading are good. I get that. I’m a bookworm. The libraries that are local to me DO do crafts and things in the Library sponsored after school and weekend programs. I’m thankful (and so are the kids in my family) that they have these programs. My problem is this:
    “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    Video games don’t promote literacy either. I fail to see the wisdom of taking away something that builds problem solving, practices mathematics, builds hand/eye coordination, builds self esteem, and even yes, literacy (ever read a pattern book?) for video games. I don’t live in that area or patronise that library, but I would seriously question the reasoning behind this decision. I suppose that one could say that playing a video game like Halo may inspire a child to read the Halo novels, but having actually asked some gamer kids I know if they’d ever read the Halo novels, I generally got a blank look and a “Why?” A video game world sucks you in and creates a fantasy experience that a gamer does not have to work for. A book means that the gamer has to actively engage her imagination and participate in the activity. Many of them aren’t willing to put in the effort to do so. Gaming is passive and doesn’t really inspire reading. Knitting is active and may inspire reading.
    If I were a patron/parent of a patron, I would suggest no video game club at all, if the knitters are evicted. But usually, I’m a “live and let live” sort of person. I see no reason why (aside from money, which is a perennial concern for all libraries. Call for community volunteers, anyone?) they can’t have both. But to replace knitting with video games is insane in my world view.

  249. Glad I live where I do. Never heard anything more ridiculous! In any U.S. town I’ve lived in (7 states,12 municipalities) any local group can claim a meeting room for any reasonable purpose as long as a reservation for the room is made, a room is available, and the noise of the activity doesn’t disturb others. I assume an “unreasonable” purpose would be something like archery or discus throwing. Is this a Canadian/Ontario thing?

  250. Once again – you ponder all points, and say it SO WELL. I could get used to parents being a little more pro-active in their kids learning, instead of flame throwing when any little thing isn’t handed out the way “they” want it.

  251. Excuse me, I go to my neighborhood library on a weekly basis to check out the many, MANY pattern books and magazines available on a regular basis. I cannot believe that my library in the greater Los Angeles area is the only library in existance that has knitting books available to it’s patrons. Last time I checked, knitting involved READING…pattern and tutorials and blogs. And the last time I checked gems like “Knitting Rules” and “At Knit’s End” were also published books…books that are assigned LOC and IBSN numbers. And what better way for young children to PROVE their reading comprehension than to produce a tangible object that is the direct result of their following detailed instructions that they READ from a pattern book or magazine or leaflet?
    But I TOTALLY get that the video gamers need their library space too. In fact I can think of DOZENS of ways that video gaming is much more crucial to reading comprehension and literacy. Just make sure the kids don’t sit too close to the TV. I hear that can mess up a kid’s eyes…then the kids couldn’t read at all…then they could save loads of money by shutting down the libraries altogether.
    …and all because the wee ones couldn’t knit. 😉

  252. From what the article said, it sounded like the library had nothing to do with developing the knitting club, so they’d attracted young people to the library at no expense to themselves, with no effort on their part at all. Now perhaps they’ve lost them. The kids can knit somewhere else, but I wonder if these 6-10 year old feel unwelcome in their own community library, now.
    I work in a library, and I have been a library patron as long as I can remember. Libraries are not just for literature. They are a community resource for information, entertainment, and education. I think knitting falls under all of these.
    I have no real objection to the video game night, but I have an objection to the suggestion that this library will be replacing the small knitting group with a crafting club to discuss chick lit. I’m as much a fan of chick lit as the next woman, but this strikes me as sexist. So, the video games are for the boys, and the crafting and chick lit is for the girls? Argh.

  253. I wouldn’t have batted an eye at this if they hadn’t mentioned video games. Why are video games more literacy friendly than crafts? It has been my observation that video games distract children from reading. At least if they were knitting, they’d have a pair of mittens to show for it. Mittens, in the long run, are more useful than a high score on your Nintendo.

  254. I see other people have brought this up, but I wish to add my voice: Video games in the library are okay, but arts and crafts (knitting included) are not? How skewed is that?!
    I also agree that the library has a right to decide what they are going to fund, and a knitting book club sounds like a great idea. But the video game thing still rankles.

  255. One thing I wondered when reading the article was whether they’ve eliminated the arts & craft portions of all their very-small-children’s programs. When I took my kids to storytime and other programs at the library, there was often an arts & crafts element to it.
    The thing that bothered me, though, was the manager of library services saying, “If they want to knit in the library, why not formulate a book club and knit as you discuss a book?” Well, why doesn’t the library go ahead and *offer* such a book club/knitter’s group? It sounded (in the article) like the programming was library-driven, so it would seem like the library should be offering such a book club, rather than expecting the kids to take the initiative (something the kids probably weren’t told was an option before the article came out…).

  256. I agree with all of your points in defense of the library’s decision, but as many others have pointed out, they really do lose substantial credibility
    because of the following quote:
    “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    It seems very inconsistent to ban a knitting/crochet group, but allow a video game night when neither are directly literary in nature. I think a knitting/book club is a great idea, but how can video games be combined with literary pursuits? They really have no place in a library.

  257. I think all the folks complaining about the kids not knitting in the library should host knitting groups at their place of business. For kids even.
    People get all up in arms about things pertaining to kids and then never really want to do anything substantial and consistent to help. Like hosting a crafts group of their choice for kids at their own expense of time and resources.
    Anything pertaining to television/video games/excessive use of computers is going to cause brain damage.

  258. You know, I was totally on the library’s side until I went to the article and read “The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    If they want to hold a video game night then good on them, but if the whole point of no longer funding the knitting circle is because it’s not focused on literacy, then why host a non-literacy event?
    At any rate, I hope the young knitters’ group isn’t homeless for very long… if I lived in Ontario, I’d offer up the LYS I work for as space!

  259. My knitting guild sponsors an afternoon knitting group at the local library. We provide an adult (or two) who helps teach/problem solve/etc. The cost to the library is zilch.
    Unfortunately, these days, when you have minors involved, you have to have a “responsible adult” (or two, for everyone’s safety) stay with them. Can’t tell from the article if the biscuit and team Mom does that.
    Seems to me that the group could be adopted by a local guild or bee or knitting shop (one of our local shops provided a door prize or two for the children’s summer reading program). Little or no cost to the library. And, rather than a book club, why not a read-along…members choose a book and take turns reading chapters as they knit?
    However, I do agree with the comments about eliminating crafts and adding video games. The kids generally aren’t interested in the “educational” games once they hit a certain age…and the video games (mostly boys) don’t encourage reading any more than crafts (mostly girls) do. However, I will say that my son will spend hours on the Internet searching for “cheats” (i.e., shortcuts and tips) on any game he plays.

  260. Oh Steph, I love you. That’s all I can say today.
    I love the library as much as anything in the world, but having seen what’s happening to British libraries (where the idea of reading books seems to be completely pushed aside), I’m so there with you.
    Ok, I said more than I love you. But it’s still the most important thing.

  261. I support the library’s position, and the librarian’s suggestion. Beth Pattillo wrote a book about women doing that very thing (“Sweetgum Knit Lit Society”). They would read a book, and knit something based on that book. For instance, when they read “Heidi”, they all made felted totes. It doesn’t have to be chick lit. But yes, replacing it with a video game night stinks. Video games do precious little for child brains. Knitting does much more, and has more to do with literacy. However, each library has to attract patrons, because without patrons, there is no library. That would hit all knitters hard. I know, because I am a Knitter and a librarian. I get half the knitting books I read from the library. The video game thing does rankle, but you have to attract patrons somehow. Besides, young males respond better to the lure of video games. I sympathize with the librarian.

  262. There must be more to this that the public doesn’t know. There are just too many holes in the story. As a librarian, I cannot imagine NOT having groups like this in the library. Certainly, the library has books about knitting and if such things are of interest to their patrons, hosting a knitting group simply makes sense. I understand why they would also want the other activities listed, as these are popular schemes to lure teens back into the library.
    Here is a quote from the library’s website http://www.sdglibrary.ca regarding programs: Programmes which contribute to the informational, cultural, learning and leisure needs of a growing community may be offered or sponsored by the library.
    They also had this regarding Use of Buildings: Library facilities are available to all members of the public provided they conduct themselves in a reasonable manner.
    I wonder what the real story is?

  263. Well, I’ve come late to the party, and don’t have anything particularly fresh to add. Except, perhaps, a purely personal observation.
    When I was about six years old, I joined (ok, ok, I was forced by my mother to attend) an afternoon stamp collecting club for children. Our meetings were held at — you guessed it — the public library.
    I borrowed a lot of books from that library. (I was not, I should add, under any duress from my mother on that score!)
    Very few — if indeed any at all, it’s so long ago I can’t remember perfectly — were about postage stamps.

  264. One other comment about public “community centers” such as the library…in my county, if you have an organized activity, you have to be “invited” to present it to the community at a public facility, such as the library or the school.
    A private organization, such as a knitting guild, has to have $1 million insurance policy (about $400 annually) to use the public meeting rooms; has to sign up monthly to reserve the space, and can be bumped for “county use”. This is to use the public facilities that my tax money has financed!!! Our county attorney wants to protect us from lawsuits, hence the insurance requirement.

  265. This is too bad. This library is so short-sighted. I work in a library and we teach knitting and other crafts to teens, adults etc. in an effort to get them in the library. We also provide video-gaming tournaments etc. The shift in my field is to make libraries THE space for the community, else how can we remain viable in budget tight times? I can’t believe they would kick them out of the library because they happen to be holding knitting needles. I don’t see how this is serving their community in any positive way at all. Six years old and she can knit? She should be given an award 🙂

  266. I agree with all of your points. I agree with the library’s points. Literacy should be promoted at libraries. I agree with the scrabble night, or even other games (card/board) that have the use of reading as a requirement of the game.
    I don’t agree with this video game night. It seems almost a contradiction. Why video games and not knitting then? Really, are they going to promote lots of video games that use reading? I haven’t seen any popularized video games that involve a lot of reading. They should have been more specific.

  267. Once upon a time there was a elementary-school music teacher who also loved fiber arts and cooking, and at her school there was also a grant program for after-school enrichment classes. The music teacher figured out PDQ that if she was going to enrich anyone with fiber and/or food, it had better also be linked (somehow! anyhow!) to literacy.
    So the fiber club projects were based on books like “The Red Wolf” and its theme of “Knit what you like,” while the cooking club got its projects from stories like “Irving & Muktuk: Two Bad Bears,” where the main characters have an unholy love for blueberry muffins. At the beginning of each session, the book was read, and the projects went from there.
    Moral of the story: every program has its kink. Figure out the kink, write the grant/create the program to answer to the kink. Go forth and create, secure in your knowledge that you have just subverted the dominant paradigm by playing by its rules.

  268. For the most part, I have to say that I agree with you…Just because I don’t like this particular decision doesn’t mean that it’s such a bad thing! That said (and I’m sure this has been mentioned many times already, but I didn’t read all of the previous comments), how is a video game night promoting literacy? I really have to say that if there is room for a video game night, then I have to believe that there’s room for a knitting group!

  269. i am in florida and in the middle
    of a hurricane warning
    i thought i would come up for air
    as my knitting does not make storms
    go away and i wonder do they allow
    knitting needles in shelters
    how in the world did this become
    a world wide issue ? this is the towns
    issue we have budget cuts and
    security guards and guide dogs
    come in and the little ones read
    to the dogs but one does not declare
    war on the town or burn it down
    knitters do not need to be an
    international gang that solves nothing
    lets leave it alone go knit a sock

  270. Although I appreciate Stephanie’s thoughtful analysis as always, it’s been interesting to hear what you librarians have to say, especially in regard to the positive aspects of video games. I’m realizing that my view of libraries – not to mention video games – needs updating.
    It is also interesting to note how quick we are (and by we, I mean people in general) to react to the notion of something being taken away that we feel entitled to. I mean… think of all the thousands of libraries that have never had a knitting club. Are they evil? Not hardly.
    Sorry to say, but I think the “make it into a knitting book club” idea is not so much a compromise as a blatantly transparent attempt to placate the powers that be – who probably feel bad enough as it is – that would ultimately backfire and cause even more hard feelings. It’s not the right solution for this situation, much as it might be a success anywhere else.
    Young knitters, go gentle into that good night. (With apologies to Dylan Thomas.)

  271. I can understand the position of the library, literacy is their mandate and suggesting a knitting book club is a wonderful idea. Additionally, if there will be video game nights to attract a larger audience, perhaps the girls and their parents could volunteer to host a craft night in conjunction with the library where they teach knitting and crochet as an outreach. If the club is being moved to a local tea room or shop or home, they could advertise themselves at such an evening. My hometown library loved that type of event, and by volunteering, it helps take pressure off the library staff.

  272. Ok. I read the article and I noticed as some others have, that the library is still planning to host non literary functions such as “video game night.” Now, just how do you give video games a literary bent? I have not seen Jane Austin titles for any type of video console out there anywhere.
    And here’s another thing….. Why did they have to “ban arts and crafts?” That seems a little extreme. There are loads and loads of books out there about arts and crafts. What about a series of “sessions” where children learn different crafts from different books (with an experienced instructor of course)?
    I think the librarian is obviously NOT a knitter.

  273. Ok so the library has the right to pull the plug on arts and crafts, but keeps video games plugged in. Could this have anything to do with recent news reports that claim that all the video games the kids are playing with now … will turn them into great surgeons. .. hmm I don’t know. Frankly, I think knitting makes for a fine surgeon… you learn how to “suture” your knitting as well as take a part and fix and “re-suture” again. Besides… there is literacy in knitting books of which most librarys do carry.

  274. I have 3 libraries within walking distance from my home. One is the main city library, the other 2 are satellites in poorer areas of the city.
    The main library is 6 stories high and has dozens of different sized meeting rooms that people can book for a variety of events, not all literacy related.
    The satellite librairies don’t have meeting rooms, and when I was there on there on Friday, there were kids waiting for free tables to be able to do their homework.
    So I really think that without knowing more about the library and its facilities, we can’t really say whether they had much of a choice or not. But personally, I think community centres would be more appropriate.

  275. We knitters are very passionate and protective of knitting, aren’t we??
    I say let these young knitters organize themselves. They could still meet at the library to knit, or they could figure out some other location like the park or the coffee shop or someone’s house or whatever. There’s no reason the library has to use its limited funds and resources to sustain their group, especially if they want to focus on literacy. And if these girls love knitting as much as any of us, then they’ll figure out a way to keep their group going.
    Although, I’m not sure the library could justify a video game night either.

  276. The library’s own actions demonstrate this isn’t about focusing on literacy. If it were, they wouldn’t be creating — and paying for — video game nights.
    This looks more like some ninny deciding that obnoxious loud activities which appeal mostly to boys are superior to quiet non-disruptive activities which appeal mostly to girls.
    I understand the library has limited resources, and if it decided to sponsor only book- or literacy-related activities, that would make perfect sense. They aren’t doing that though, so this clearly hasn’t got anything to do with using their limited resources to focus on their primary mission.
    Knitting fosters more skills, and more types of brain development, than video games do. This sounds like some administrator deciding knitting is a “dumb girl thing” and video games are “cooler.”
    To be perfectly blunt, this smells like the sexism so often involved in dismissing knitting — after all, how important or worthwhile can an activity be if it’s mostly women and girls who do it?

  277. Thanks for this very civilized discussion, Stefanie.
    I have to take issue with this point:
    Even if knitting and literacy are connected (and frankly, as much as I wish it were not true, there’s little proof), . . .
    I believe that literacy encompasses so much more than just the ability to read and write effectively (see here for more reading on the subject http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy). And you are the perfect example of knitting and literacy as being connected–look at the career you’ve built–all because of literate knitters–you write, we read, we all knit.

  278. Well, as others have said, the article doesn’t give a lot of background info on this topic, but I would think that encouraging the girls’ knitting group in the library IS also encouraging literacy (I’m speaking as someone who uses the library A LOT for supporting my knitting hobby (how to books, pattern books, novels about knitting, books by the Yarn Harlot… : ) ) If someone in the library is organizing this group (this is what I’m getting out of the part where they say they are putting their funding into other things promoting literacy (like video games,cough, gag (sorry, but I think video games are a primary ENEMY of literacy!!), then would it not be THEIR responsibility to introduce these books to the girls, rather than just shut the group down and then put it on the girls’ lap to come up with a book study club on their own? I think the library is being remiss in their duty by chucking a good thing out, instead of using it to their benefit.
    So I’m still for taking burning torches to the library, or at least a good board to whack some sense into some of the people there (still choking on the video games-grrrr…)

  279. Just because you don’t like a policy does *not* necessarily make it wrong. I’m a big proponent of business being able to make its own choices based on what they want their business/clientele to be. However, this is a government run operation, and since (theoretically, as I’m not Canadian) I as a taxpayer am actually paying for the library, I believe I should have a say in how it’s run.
    There were a few things that the article did not specifically address, and one that you did not address in your arguments:
    there was no indication that the library financially supported the knitting group, nor that they supported it with staff (presuming supervision at least, active participation at best). It sounded merely that the group was “official” and that they meet there. The item you did not mention is that they will be offering video groups to appeal to a wider base. I fail to see how this is any more literary than knitting. Unless, of course, they will be reading a book and then seeing the movie and having comparison discussion, but they didn’t say that, either.
    I do agree that this is not a community center, and certainly knitters can knit elsewhere. There is no indication that the group receives instruction from the library staff, but this would be my only concern about finding other locations to knit. While I can see that their focus will be realigning to be more literary based, I do think that knitting is definitely literary-based, and that having a Scrabble game night is only barely more ‘literary.’ Of course, I also agree that getting a kid into the library under virtually any circumstances can’t be a bad thing. 🙂
    Anyway, this whole thing is way more trouble than I would want to get into, and I certainly would not be calling upon my favorite Harlot to intervene (although you’re really good at it, when you need to be).
    Thanks for the stimulating discussion!

  280. Actually, they can say what they want – it all boils down to the mighty dollar (Canadian or US). When our schools decided to try to fit expenditures within their budget they eliminated many many classes which before were standard: music, penmanship, home economics, extra curricular activities which were school sponsored, etc.
    Now, we have a collection of 25 year-olds who cannot sew or knit, or cook for gosh sake, and all of them have handwriting like mass murderers.
    BUT, they would not, of course, eliminate FOOTBALL or other intramurals – WE ARE IN TEXAS!!!!! So we do have our young ones trying to get on the field or on the court, etc. Wish all of them were fit, could write, sing, play an instrument, KNIT, SEW, etc., etc.
    It’s sad, of course, but everyone feels the pinch. I think all should be allowed in a public place so long as they do not disrupt. If a commitment is made to a specific group at a specific time, then, by golly, if you wanna have space available perhaps another time will be open. Ergo the definition of “public place.”

  281. While it is very sad, it is also very true that the library mandates where it’s budget goes and the ways in which it needs to use it. It’s also true that shifting the knitting club to a book club where it’s okay to knit while you discuss books is, unfortunately, more “library-like”. It does teach the children about society, about how rules can shift on you and do things you don’t like to things you really like doing, how to go about fixing said society and it’s rules so you can carry on doing what you like doing while meeting the requirements society unfortunately imposes on us all and the appropriate way to do these things. It’s not a bad thing to have to read a book in order to carry on knitting in the same space and perhaps they could do a concentration in politics and how to best effect change, starting on a local level and turn out to be some of the best world leaders ever trained. And allow knitting in the UN Security Council meetings, under their new mandates. It would really help to cool off tempers, don’t you think?

  282. I don’t understand and I don’t agree and I am appalled that you, a knitter who makes her living from literacy, would take the side of the library. And it really has nothing to do with whether it’s knitting or model car building.
    My daughter teaches reading. She has her M.Ed with a dual major of reading and language arts. She works in the school system at the middle school level, diagnosing reading issues and designing IEPs to get students up to grade level.
    Literacy is so much more than being able to read “See Spot run. Run, Spot, run.”
    Knitting, crocheting, crafting all contribute to a literate child. One of the goals of literacy is called “critical literacy”. Reading to perform a task developes critical literacy, a higher level thinking process which is a significant goal. Reading patterns or directions develops critical literacy. One can not get around the fact that knitting requires critical thinking skills. One must take given information and extrapolate it to one’s own use. Which leads to another point.
    Synthesizing – using what you read to create something unique. We call it designing but it is an advanced level of literacy. Not only do you perfom the task, you apply what you learn to creating something new and different. This used to be considered the penultimate form of literacy but that’s now been replaced with evaluating.
    Evaluating is looking at someone else’s work to find mistakes and correcting them. Reading the pattern, reading the work, recognizing what went wrong and rectifying it.
    Lastly (then I’ll get off my soapbox), one of the challenges facing reading and literature teachers everywhere is how to engage the student. Students are put in front of a TV or video game at such an early age that they do not engage as well as they should. Teachers who do not have flashing lights and bells and whistles are boring and that leads to the mind not staying on task. The goal of a reading teacher, especially with weak or unachieving readers, is to find something that they are passionate about and incorporate that into the student’s literacy program. These parents and librarians are missing the boat. They have ENGAGED kids who are reading.
    You cannot do math if you cannot read. You cannot do science if you cannot read. You cannot write if you cannot read. Reading is the grassroots skill and it should be encouraged.
    Someone needs to awaken them to the realities of life. They’ve missed the point completely.

  283. OMG. The library is actually telling the little girls that they can’t knit in the public library as a group?
    My anachist side says: so what???
    IMHO, I think the library may be objecting to a dangerous group of little girls with sharp pointy sticks. Gangsta chicks with sticks.
    Would the library throw out the little girls if they just happen to all go to the library at the same time with their kniting/crocheting? Not a formal group, but just some girls who just happen to knit in public libraries. (this is the anarchist part of my plan) – the girls should just go to the public library and sit together where ever they can knitting in public. Publicly. Knitting. (Hah! pointy sticks! in Public!!)
    The library seems like a much safer place for little girls than Starbucks or Barnes&Noble. I think they should just show up there together.

  284. I’d be happier with more information but I pretty much am with you on this issue; It sucks that they’ve moved the program but they obviously haven’t BANNED knitting- I went into this figuring they’d “banned” crafts in the library because of mess and it doesn’t sound like that at all.
    And.. well, they could easily find another place to knit, I’d think.

  285. I haven’t time to read all the comments, but the article made it sound like these girls were just knitting there, not that they were taking part in a knitting club organized by the library. Speaking as a librarian, if that’s the case and they weren’t causing a problem, why not let them stay? But if it was a library-sponsored program, there is only so much money to go around and the library may decide not to spend their money on arts and crafts, however worthy they are.

  286. I don’t think this story is about knitting or reading. I think it is very sad that public libraries today don’t get enough money to allow all the kids that want to be there for any wholesome reason to do so. Too much money is being spent on the wrong things, like war. Kids that hang out in libraries all should be encouraged. And, there should be the little bit of money needed to do that available.

  287. I had kick in my 2 cents worth here even though I don’t live in Ontario, or anywhere in Canada for that matter. Libraries are there for people who want to read or borrow books or study or whatever activities pertain to the written word. Budgets are so tight here in California, that some of our communities have seen libraries reduce hours drasticly while others have had to close their doors completely. I understand why the librarian has had to ban other activities in order to bring more readers into the library. But surely Canadian communities have community centers where these groups could meet? After school care providers that would supervise? A mom or two who would rotate hosting duties? The ban that the library has imposed does have work-arounds. And we know that knitters are creative people. If they want to carry on, they’ll find a way to make it work.

  288. I think the library would have a stronger argument that they stopped the knitting in order to promote literacy, if they weren’t replacing it with Scrabble and videogames! I agree with the person who said the community should decide what they want their library to be

  289. The policy is fine. I understand budget cuts as well as the next person. But, after years of working in a library, I also know that the vast majority of programs in libraries are executed by volunteers. Shelving is done by volunteers or VERY low paid assistants. My friend that uses that particular library tells me that they don’t even have a paid employee “running” a knitting program, rather those girls are using the space to knit.
    So as far as I can tell from that article, they are banning knitting. If knitting is only allowed in a book club, it has been banned.
    Unless the video games are played while discussing a book – while all of them discuss the book, I think it’s a poor argument to say they are moving towards literacy.
    I really don’t see how you can mock the situation and make fun of people who are up in arms. Yes, the library makes the final decision but it doesn’t mean we just stand back and let them. There is no need to teach complacency to children.

  290. I’m a trustee on my rural library district board. There are so many groups wanting to use library space that they need to ration out room space. The same group can only use the library once every two months.
    It seems to me the library is being reasonable in setting priorities for the use of its space.

  291. I understand the need to focus on literacy and changing the programming isn’t wrong at all. However, it seems to be a bit of a double standard that they will promote a video game night to attract a younger crowd and kick out an already formed group of young people who are knitting. It seems like the library manager may hold unfair stereotypes about the type (and age) of people interested in knitting.

  292. I can understand the views of both sides. However, as you explain it, this is not a community center AND the library is willing to work with the girls if they bring in more books and promote literacy.
    The library is being very reasonable and the knitters can read and knit and discuss the books. Both sides will be happy.

  293. I like the idea someone put up about knitting around a theme – ie for charity while learning about the disadvantaged, patterns from different countries etc
    We’ve been looking for a new venue for our (mostly adult) SnB group, and while the library was raised as a possibility further investigation revealed we would have to have enormous insurance cover =(

  294. I totally agree with Barb. At the beginning of summer I asked the manager of my local library about using one of the rooms for a knit group. I was turned down, and informed that dozens of different groups get turned down each month for those exact reasons that Barb stated. It’s understandable. And I’m pretty sure the librarian in the article is not a knitter hater.

  295. So much ado about so very little.
    There’s a little knitting-together group hoping to form in our community here. We’re hesitant to meet in a yarn store (temptation! and guilt over knitting yarn from other sources), a Barnes & Noble (see above, substituting books for yarn) or a Starbucks (self-evident), or even a local-owned coffee venue (we’re gathering to knit and talk, not to eat and drink). So where to go? Gotta tell ya, the local library never occurred to any of us. I suspect we’d be way too loud.

  296. What bothers me is that a huge discussion would ensue over such a poorly written article.
    The article sides heavily with the ousted little girls. They are portrayed in a sickeningly cute way — and can you get over the mom’s comment?
    What they were doing there had nothing to do with a library at all. If that mom wants to invite them all over, including the reporter, to have cookies and tea at her house, she should go ahead.
    I think that librarian is so wonderful to suggest a book club where they can knit. She wants to compromise, and keep her library a library.

  297. Sigh! I’ve been teaching elementary school since 1975. It’s still troubling to see that grown folks in charge don’t see the natural connections between reading, writing, math, history, good mental health, etc, etc, etc and crafting. :p

  298. Like most of the other folks, I saw no problem until I hit the part about the video game night.
    I understand wanting to draw kids in who wouldn’t otherwise come, but the chances of “converting” a kid who would *only* visit a library to play video games are slim to none.
    Ditto on having a video game night devoted to “educational” games. Even if you managed to dupe the hard-core gamers into coming (doubtful), it sure wouldn’t make them think libraries/books are cool. . .
    P.S. I’m the daughter of a retired children’s librarian, a gamer, a book worshipper, and a knitter (not neccessarily in that order).

  299. FPS! The library is planning on holding video game nights, but a knitting group can’t meet there? Bull. If they are going to have video games, they should be able to have knitting too.

  300. Here’s a thought: isn’t this a good place for a LYS, a community center, recreation department or some other civic minded (not necessarily funded) entity to jump in and save the day? Surely there are organizations (for and not for profit) that might make some lemonade from this pickle (sorry – just had to mix that metaphor). One of our LYS teaches the craft to at risk teens – and our city government funds summer programs including crafts…
    Lots of opinions out there, eh? Wish there didn’t have to be the ‘weeding’, but it’s about the numbers.

  301. I was upset when I read this but I could kind of see the library’s thinking until they threw in the video game part. If they are going to make exceptions for non-literacy activities as mind numbing and brain destroying as video games (unless we’re talking Reader Rabbit here and I don’t think we are) then they need to allow other non-literacy themed nights as well. Plus there are people who go to the library all the time just to use the free internet to check out their email, not books. In keeping with their new policy maybe they should do away with computers that access the internet as well. If the library wants to go all literacy then they need to do it 100% and not make “exceptions.”

  302. I’m a big fan of libraries and their attempts to do outreach. On this one I’m on their side, especially the part about getting the girls to use the books available. While knitting & crocheting are also wonderful for young brains, too many young kids aren’t getting into books at all and any way we can get them there is good. (OK, I can probably think of a few “not good” ways.) Though I have to say the video game night is silly on their part. The only way I’d be not on the library’s side on this one is if these girls happen to live in a place where the library is the only public community space. (I know nothing about Long Sault.)

  303. I used to work at an art museum and it sounds like we had many of the same problems this library appears to have. How do you reach as much of the community as possible while still keeping in mind institutional goals? I am inclined to think of the library as a type of community center similar to the way I view museums. These are institutions set up for the public benefit and should be made available to as many people as possible in a variety of ways. For example, the museum I worked at holds Tai Chi classes; even though this program might be more a of “stretch” to fit into an art museum’s curriculum than sketching in the gallery, it also reached a group of individuals who may have been less inclined to come into the museum under different circumstances.
    I think the library’s suggestion of integrating a book component into the knitting group is a good idea. I wish the article had mentioned how the video games contain a literary aspect; if the library has figured out a way to do this then I think that is great! It would be another example of an institution reaching out to another group within the community.

  304. I guess what’s missing from the story is why it was costing the library money for them to meet there. Any knitting group I’ve been in, we just met in some public place. The establishment we met in didn’t do anything for us except exist and let us meet there. They didn’t run a program or give us anything. It was just a meeting place. Why does the library need to run the club? Can’t the knitters just meet there and knit?

  305. I believe the library administration has a right to determine how their libraries will be used.
    However, I also reflect that Long Sault, certainly as shown on Google Maps, seems to be a very small place, and it is quite possible these kids don’t have anywhere else to meet.
    The library administration, however, covers three counties and 18 branches, most of which are likely in more urban areas, and perhaps their idea of who is going to need to use the library and for what purpose is skewed towards those more urban areas. Perhaps after this kerfuffle they will review whether they’re answering the needs of each particular community, such as Long Sault, or not.
    This all reminds me of what happened (back in the 70s) when the Bay started doing all its ordering out of Toronto. As soon as fall hit, we here in Vancouver would be inundated with useless-for-us snow boots, while the rain boots we really needed weren’t sold at all.

  306. Are you certain that you and I are not related??? Your comments sounds exactly like mine. YOU. GO. GIRL.

  307. (Haven’t read the comments yet…but)
    I agree with the Library. They have limited resources and they must be devoted to literacy and books. Knitting/crocheting/crafts can involve reading and the girls could work on their crafts as they talk. Someone will (or already has) draw the conclusion that the Library may not need X amount of funds if they don’t have literacy/literary groups. That would impact on their ability to buy more and new books, among other things (number of staff, hours and days of service).
    No, it may not be fair but the Library has a mission involving books and reading, not providing a warm, safe place to do other things. I agree with the Library.
    Also, the girls could continue this group in their homes on a rotating basis, each girl hosting a meeting in turn.

  308. Quite a smooth little library diversion…something went terribly wrong with Manon, didn’t it?

  309. A “ban” on arts and crafts in the library? Come on. This is probably just a very poorly written article, information omitted for effect.

  310. We have just wrapped up our summer reading program in a library that is extremely short of space. Having the kids who participate in the program has been awesome and they also sign out books. The problem is the mothers, who stay to use our free internet access, and allow their younger children to run wild, scream, fight with each other and rip books off the shelves, and visit loudly with each other, creating problems for staff and also patrons who want to quietly come sign out a book.
    But…a video game night, yikes. It would turn into an incredibly noisy, crowded hang out and discourage all other patrons from coming to the library.
    Maybe I’m becoming intolerant, but we have a hard time getting the adult public to come to the library, since we are housed in a school.

  311. I say that if they want to be purists and decide that libraries are for reading and that’s it, they’re well within their rights. But to follow that reasoning out logically they then have to get rid of ALL activities not related to reading, especially video games, which are disruptive and expensive, unlike knitting. Being told that they can’t meet to knit there any longer because libraries should be for reading only, but that they can meet to go play video games once a week instead is probably really confusing for the kids. That’s why the library looks so ridiculous. It’s like telling people that you’re a strict vegetarian except for when you eat chicken, beef, or pork.
    Sorry to bring more anecdotal evidence into this, and I hope I’m wrong, but I’m a teenager myself and I have never once seen a video game get any kid to read, quite the opposite. Although I love both knitting and reading, I know that I’m quite the minority in my age group. One of my friends used to volunteer in the teen section of our local library which was supposed to have all sorts of activities promote reading. And yet, the few times I visited there the only thing I found was about a dozen teenagers playing video games and screeching. Not one kid goes to that section and leaves the library with a book, it wouldn’t even occur to most of them to crack open a book. You can say that video games somehow promote literacy until you’re blue in the face but, unfortunately, I just don’t think it’s true. Getting young people INTO a library and getting them out of it with a book in hand are two very different things.

  312. I mostly agree with the library (and their suggestion to work books into the children’s knitting group…a fine idea to combine the two). However, I have to say that I really don’t think that video games have any place in the library.

  313. Kudos to you for being fair-minded when it would be so easy just to rant that the library people are crazy. I totally agree with your points for the library (although I’m curious about the video game night.)

  314. Stephanie, I agree with you (as I usually seem to) and your opinions are well-reasoned (as they usually seem to be) but two things stand out at me: 1.)library + video games – knitting = literacy??? and 2.) it is never explained in what way the knitting group uses any library resources. if it were a library-sponsored group, and used the staff or other limited resources, then I would have to agree with the library’s push to “focus on literacy”.
    But the only “resource” they’re using is space. So unless that library is either really, really small or really, really popular (and perhaps it is, I haven’t been there), it’s hard to imagine space being a limiting factor in any public library.
    FWIW, my daughters and I visit our public library regularly, and it is enormously popular and *lousy* with all sorts of extra programs, sometimes with lines stecthing out the door, but there is always space to sit and knit. and i do.

    I agree that if the library wants to focus on literary things that’s all right, but I disagree with you on a few points:
    1. The library is not focusing on literary things. The article mentioned they were letting people play video games in the library! Hello!
    2. You made it sound as though the librarians were asked to supervise the little girls or run the club. But that wasn’t mentioned at all. The mother of one of the girls mentioned watching the club. So these girls were probably supervised by their parents.
    3. As you said the manager clearly had no objections to the girls knitting in her library, it just had to revolve around reading. It would be a totally valid point, if it weren’t for the fact that they are being totally hypocritical. They are going to let kids play video games in the library, but not knit? Exactly what do video games have to do with reading? I’m sure it would have mentioned if the video games were reading related, and I don’t know of many video games that involve reading anyway.
    4. The only reason they gave for throwing out the little knitting girls and choosing instead to let kids play video games, besides knitting not having anything to do with literacy, was to attract younger people to the library. But they already have younger people spending time at the library!! The knitting group was made up of girls ages 6-10!
    5. The fact that the manager doesn’t think knitting will attract young people smacks of a stereotypical belief. Has she met the group she kicked out of the library?
    I hope you read this.

  316. There is some info missing here- who teaches the knitting class, a staff member or a kindly volunteer? How big is the library and is there only one table? Is 2 hours a week really harming anyone?
    As for the video game idea- thumbs down. Most kids have their own systems at home, so why would they want to go to the library just to play video games that they have to share with others who are there, many unwillingly? And, who is providing the system and the games? those are not cheap by any means, and if the library is buying the systems and all the gear that oes with it, what if it goes missing and they have to replace it? ANd, when the budget for the video games night runs out, are they going to suspend it, and say “Hey, how about a book instead?”
    And were those little girls asking the library to buy their yarn, needles and hooks? Would there be any problem if there was some charity knitting going on to donate to the homeless that seek shelter in the library during the winters? How much value does a video game have on a cold day???

  317. I would completely agree with you, Stephanie, except that they ARE hosting video game events. Completely shoots the literary argument out of the water. And it’s also not at all clear that the time slot that the girls were using is being taken by a book group.
    Would you like research showing that knitting DOES indeed help literacy (and math)? here:
    It’s about a research grant, and there is a .pdf with a research paper on the subject….

  318. Near my home town, in a major city, there is a big, beautiful new library. It has an auditorium. (Stephanie I think you have been there in fact) and it has community rooms that are used for many different community functions. There are also little cubby type places that a small group can get together and commune, (knit, chat quietly, sit with a computer, etc….). In fact, the foyer of the library has a coffee shop, and an art store, a flower shope, and a terrific little sandwich shop.
    Yes, this library is huge. And yes space can be an issue. But libraries are about people, and communities- young and old. For what would books be, about or written by, or for or….. if it weren’t for people.
    On this one I’m against the library’s decision to displace the childrens knitting group.

  319. I know this has probably been said many times by the time I get to post it, but I have to say it. I would not be oposed to the idea of them starting a reading club while knitting. But what erks me is that they are scheduling a video games night to attract a yonger croud. No offense but I would much rather attract a croud of knitters than those youngsters that typically play video games. I worked at a youth centre and from my experience their and the ones who came for the video games, lets just say I would rather have the more arts and crafts oriented crowd. Unfortunately its those that are more genteel that get mowed over in order to try and attract a different crowd that didn’t want to be there necesarely in the first place.
    I love to read. I am all for libraries promoting reading. Any day curled up with a good book, is a good day. But seriously, if you are going to black list a non reading activity in order to focus more on literacy, include all activities. Don’t make exceptions for something like vidoe games. I can see how scrable is related. And maybe we should be asking what type of video games are going to be offered? because maybe that makes a difference in our reactions. But a more even standard and more information provided would help to provide a better way of comprehending the situation.
    Long live books…

  320. Wow…. I didn’t take time to read all the comments, so I may be repeating what has already been said. This struck a nerve in me: a former children’s librarian [10 years], who promoted the use of the library in any way I could. I had maps to put together. I had hot chocolate chats. Reading is about life. Books are about life. Relating books and reading to the “REAL” world is essential in this world. Knitting involves reading. Reading a pattern, sharing knowledge, developing community. Talk about practical application of reading knowledge. All things a library should be promoting.
    I hope that this library can resolve this issue and see that allowing these young readers to enjoy their space IS promoting literacy. Libraries are so much more than books today. We went beyond books around 1990 with the advent of widespread computer use….OK I’ll stop now, or this could go on for a lot longer……

  321. 1. I had to get better bookshelves to support my magazine and knitting book habit. Perhaps if the library had a stronger craft and knitting section, it would be attracting more crafters in the first place.
    2. Attracting a younger crowd is important, but these girls are 10- you can’t get a whole lot younger than that. Besides, if the video game is just Guitar Hero, the literacy factor isn’t really there, other than there are words in the game on screen.
    3. Have you ever read (and re- read) a really complex pattern? (Magazine or book) And then blogged about your troubles (or triumph) with it? Or posted to ravelry, LJ, etc? Gotten a comment from it? That’s literacy being created right there.
    4. How many of us are planning on buying the new Estoninan Knitted Lace book, or the Mason-Dixon book? Or have subscriptions to knitted magazines? Or anxiously await the new Knitty?
    You can’t tell me knitting doesn’t promote literacy. The library has to make a choice, and I don’t agree with it, but hopefully there’s a LYS that will pick these sweet girls up instead.

  322. The article had me almost buying it until it mentioned the video game night. I don’t think the goal is really to have more literacy based programs, I think it is to bring more people into the library. Video games will get the young adults 12-18 into the library and they don’t think knitting will get numbers that video games will.
    Speaking as a person with a Masters in Library Science, the role of the library in the community is to serve and meet the needs of the community. Are the needs of the community being met? Was research conducted as to what those needs are? Or is the library manager & staff allowing their values and beliefs to determine what is needed? We don’t have all of the information but I have to wonder what the real motive is and how this will shape those girls’ feelings about libraries from now on.

  323. Don’t know if you will wade through 300 comments and see mine, but I am thinking that the video game night is planned as an “event,” according to the article. This sounds to me like a one-time thing, possibly more if it achieves their goal to get those who normally do not go into the library to come inside and see that it’s a cool place.
    The knitting group was a weekly gathering, correct? So I don’t think the library is trading one for the other.
    I think the suggestion that the girls discuss a book while knitting is a great one! (I think it’s a creative way around an obstacle, another good lesson for these girls.) After all, for those times when your needles might not be allowed on the plane, you can pull out a book instead, to while away your time. These knitters would learn at a young age that knitting and reading are both portable and fun.
    And because you asked, Stephanie, no, I don’t think that just because I don’t like a policy, or something someone says, it must be wrong. It just means I don’t like it. There is a difference.

  324. I’m totally with you…except for the fact that they are having a video game night. That seems to invalidate everything else they said about literacy. I certainly don’t think this is worthy of anyone’s protest (my goodness there are 1,000 other things worth protesting, even, I suspect in the greener grasses of Canada). Yet if it was my kid’s knitting group, I would have to wonder about the video games…

  325. I am with you 100 % on this, as a knitter, a teacher of children, and a sometime library volunteer. Literacy is at great risk in our societies ( perhaps more so in the US) and we need to do all we can to encourage it. The librarian suggesting knitting while discussing a book is not hostile to knitting, she just wants to get kids hooked on reading.
    Bravo to you for your sensible attitude ( I guess that’s why I love your books and your blog so; your perspective always comes through, and, not coincidentally, generally agrees with mine).

  326. That’s a very interesting story. On a personal level, our local library of the metro public library system has seemingly turned into adventures in (free) babysitting for the after school crowd whose parents direct them there until they can be picked up when mom/dad get off work.
    Although I don’t agree with it, I do find it interesting that the library in the story will go to great lengths to host a video game night; I suspect it’s a bait and switch tactic (…. lure ’em in with a video game and then show ’em all the other virtues of the library). I also suspect most of these will be boys. So, the real question becomes, why is it incumbent upon the knitting group (girls) to think outside the box themselves, instead of the library personnel going to similar lengths to find a way to tie their presence to the books and bring in more knitting readers? (With that said, I know in my heart that they cannot do this for every special interest group.)

  327. I’ve talked about this with a lot of librarians and not one has thought it was a sensible decision on the part of the library involved. Of course the library has the right to make their own policies, and of course the community it serves (which does not include most of us) has the right to complain, make suggestions etc. But in general, libraries are not just about books anymore– they simply can’t be in the 21st century to survive and to reflect where information, culture, and resources are located. At our local public library (where my husband works), I can check out books, videos, DVDs orCDs, get on the internet to look for a job, read my favorite yarn blogger, play online games or look at just about any website except for porn. If I show up on the right day, I can learn to knit, hear music, look at an exhibit on ice harvesting, enter a photo contest, participate in a reader’s theater group, look at a display of local art or quilts and probably a dozen other various things I can’t think of right now. And, yes, once a month I can attend a knitting group. This is a small library which is, like almost all public libraries, struggling and dealing with serious budget cuts.

  328. I really like the point you are making that just because we don’t like something doesn’t make it bad or wrong.
    I love the idea of knitting and books, combining the two seems a great compromise. Anything to get the kids into the library is always good.

  329. I was a librarian for many years in a large library. We had public meeting spaces that could be used for any public program, just not staffed by library employees. Altho, the children’s deptmentment offered a knitting time for a while. Now that I am retired, I’m part of a small library in a small town–not funded by government money. We look forward to having all kinds of groups use the library as we see it as a place to interact with all kinds of skills-not just reading. I ran a literacy program at one time but that doesn’t necessarly need to be in a library. Space and money dictate what many public libraries are able to offer. What works in one community may not work in another. Let’s not shoot the librarians, they may be under considerable pressure from many interest groups where they work. i’ve seen many people; men , women and children doing fiber crafts in a public space. As long as it doesn’t intrude on other people’s use, let them do it.

  330. As a librarian (non-practicing) and a knitter, I think the compromise position is having the knitting club discuss books. Maybe books like Little Women which are A)classics and B)in which the girls knit. Wouldn’t hurt. Public library funds are tight everywhere, and no library can pay for everything their patrons might be interested in doing. However, as long as the library doesn’t actually BAN knitting, they are, indeed, working within the mandate of the citizens who pay the freight–literacy, information dispersal, etc.

  331. I am a little perplexed by the issue. Here in Florida where I live libraries welcome groups who meet for all kinds of things. However, the library staff does not supervise them. Is this not done in Canada?
    The only thing our local library says is that if a group wants to meet, it must welcome the public and can’t be exclusive. We just reserve a space and show up. It’s a delightful place to meet and there are quite a few knitting books that get perused and checked out along with other reading material. Couldn’t one or two of the moms supervise?

  332. Well, I don’t think this is the crime of the century, but it is pretty short-sighted. First, a library is a municipal service that promotes education, not just literacy. This is why many libraries have film festivals, etc. Second, craft groups lead directly to use of library craft books. Literacy is just as much about these books as about War and Peace (tho’ I love that novel.) Third, a volunteer could run the group. Fourth, video games promote the opposite of literacy, tho’ they may be fun. Finally, getting children into the library and having them familiar with the layout and staff promotes library use. This is why lots of children’s programs are run by libraries. These kids will be voting on the library’s budget one day.

  333. What I still don’t understand is what is the problem with anyone meeting in a public place ie: the Library? How can people be banned from public places? Offensive behavior, disturbing the peace and quiet of others are the only 2 I can think of right now. Why did this even become an issue? Some good points were raised in the comments on our beleifs regarding knitting versus video games, I do both, but it still has nothing to do with our freedom of being in any public place at any time. If we chose to knit or read or play in such place, we still have the right to be there.
    Maybe the point is that this is a public library, open to anyone regardless of their personal habits…..

  334. I love how you put it, “Just because I don’t like their policy… does that really make it terribly wrong?” Too often do people think that something is wrong because it either inconveniences them or it is not what they want. As someone who works in a bookstore, I understand the problem with having people using your “facility” for something other than it’s intended use, sometimes to it’s detriment, and often times people think that if something is a “public space” it is THEIR space. (note the people in my bookstore who take off their shoes and put their feet on the furniture).
    The Library has to do what is best for them, what is best to promote literacy. Maybe in a few years, they will be able to re-introduce arts and crafts programs, but literacy should be what they are focusing on and it sounds like that is what they are doing.

  335. Count me in among those who would see the point of the library program people that they want the focus to be on literacy IF IF IF they weren’t suggesting that knitting be axed in favour of video and board games! Frankly, anything that brings kids into the library to learn something strikes me as a good idea and anything that discourages kids from being surrounded by books is a bad idea.
    I see no reason why the two activities should be mutually exclusive. I have to wonder if they figured that they could cut a volunteer run program for 6-10 year old girls in favour of programs for teenaged boys because they figured that young girls wouldn’t protest too vocally? Or if they get some kind of budget money for drawing in older kids but not younger ones?
    Before I formulate a really cogent opinion about this issue, I’d want more info than is presented in these very short, very basic articles. There are potentially valid reasons for the library’s decision, but also, from what has been indicated, the possibility of discrimination against a group of girls.
    The good side of this is that, because of the exposure, it’s possible that more girls will want to come to learn to knit and perhaps someone will offer them an even better venue for their knitting group! The optimist in me hopes so.

  336. Hmm. . . . I read the article. It doesn’t sound like this group was part of a library sponsored program. If that is indeed the case, I DO believe the library is in the wrong. A patron of a library should be able to come in, sit down, and proceed with any activity that is appropriate and non-disruptive. (I say this as someone who holds a degree in Library Science) I would feel differently if the knitting group were part of an organized library activity. Those are implemented at the discretion (and budget) of the library staff.
    If the library system wants to encourage literacy, they should not ask anyone (who is appropriate and non-disruptive) to leave the building–especially pre-teens. Reading and library patronage drop off significantly for teens and young adults. To “push” away children who are already–by their very natures according to the research–at risk to discontinue any but mandatory reading is both foolish and irresponsible.
    I am not, however; inclined to set after these folks with torches and pitchforks. What they really need to do is some serious research on library patronage trends and literacy in children though young adults. I think, then, they would be compelled to recognize what appears to be an unfortunate error in judgment.

  337. Concerning the video-games-and-scrabble-replacing-knitting outrage: Scrabble builds vocabulary and spelling skills, both of which are needed for reading comprehension. And there are many, many computer games that are designed to help kids learn to read and such. The article doesn’t say exactly what age the “younger crowd” is supposed to be, but if they are talking about those learning to read, then the video games are probably very much literacy-oriented.
    Another point to consider is that space is limited in every library, no matter how spacious it is. Study groups that come in to use the reference materials are going to be SOL if all the rooms and tables are being used by craft groups. Even though the library may not be officially “sponsoring” the knitting girls, resources being used up in any form are probably needed for others library patrons.

  338. Warning: Rant.
    I used to be a librarian. A children’s librarian.
    As a parent, tax-payer and knitter, I think this situation gives librarians and libraries a VERY BAD NAME. Somebody’s PR director was AWOL. (or channeling Karl Rove… or maybe Dick Cheney). My library dis-invited a very large male person of color who showed up in a transparent pink baby-doll nighty. Even though it was California, and even though he might have been GLB or something, there was no ruckus. But who dis-invites young people who are being sociable and polite in public? I bet Starbucks (or your equivalent) or a book STORE would be glad to have them.
    I have an alternate theory. Believe it or not, being a librarian is pretty stressful. Why? Because you were told you were a professional and “middle management” but the only thing you have any influence over is nothing. Your customers (kids) and their parents are notoriously independent and intractable. They want what they want!They come in hordes, and don’t care about budgetary constraints. Your manager wants you to have a bazillion books checked in and out because that is the only f’ing statistic the budgetary “powers that be” can f’ing understand. So the group of happy knitters who might become life long learners, readers and supporters of the library get short shrift while the children’s librarian tries to figure out how to get her stats up… even if it means hordes of obnoxious pre-teens who aren’t likely to read except by accident, and who drive away the nice older folks who NEED public support for their literary and intellectual habits.
    Alternate theory #2: The person who made the decision hates: 1) kids, 2) the children’s librarian or whoever started the program, 3) anybody who has time to knit, and/or 4) is allergic to wool.

  339. I think the best part of this post is that it takes a stand against the desire to be outraged and need to start ranting on the internet. By being able to post our every thought, we seem to actually be less tolerant of other people’s opinions. Is this not something for the local community to be concerned about and no one else? As a Californian I don’t think it would be right for me to demand that the library do something just because it was in the news and I disagreed with their decision based on the limited information available. The internet can be a great tool for spreading information and creating community. However, too often we use it to spray venom on others who see things differently than ourselves. The current trend towards getting outraged over every little thing and then posting on the internet about it is not a good one in my book. Thank you for posting about looking at things from both sides.
    PS: The value of my local library having plenty of knitting books and having it increase the collection with newly printed books? Priceless. I wouldn’t know half the things I know about knitting if it weren’t for my library.

  340. I can’t believe they actually ran the knitting club without a book theme! Also, if the group took up on the offer of a book/knitting group then the library may stock up on further knitting books, which can only be a good thing. 🙂

  341. I work in a library, and this seems like a really weird step to me. An awful lot of libraries now are actually taking steps to get people in who wouldn’t come to the library for the sake of the books, with the idea that once they’re in the library, they might look at some books or at least know what’s on offer in the library. See, just because knitting isn’t sitting down and reading a novel doesn’t mean it’s not promoting literacy. Any sort of community group like that is getting people into the library and familiar with it when they wouldn’t necessarily be.
    Of course, it’s the library’s perogative to do what they will with their funding. It just seems like an odd choice!

  342. I do wonder if we adult knitters have missed a very important point.
    These are SMALL children (ages 6-10). There’s no mention of a parent or other adult staying with them for the two hours they Itch and Stitch each week.
    Are parents using the library as a free babysitting service?
    Knitting or no, children this age are too young to be unattended for that length of time.

  343. I do agree with you.
    Though I find that the video game evenings are a bit annoying.
    I can’t fault them for cancelling knitting in favour of book clubs and other events that promote literacy/reading.
    But video games have even less of a connection to literacy than knitting does. And it’s a lot harder to discuss a book while you’re playing a video game.
    Which leads me to wonder why they’re hosting a video game night. The article said it was “to attract a younger crowd”. But the library, as we’ve established, is not a community centre and it certainly isn’t an arcade. The purpose of video game night must be exactly the same as one of the arguments you quoted for why the library was wrong: “Anything that gets kids into libraries is good – even if it’s not about reading.”
    And if it’s true of video games, I don’t see why it’s not true about knitting.
    Though I do have to concede that video games have a wider appeal than knitting does. And that it’s up to the libraries to decide how their resources will be allocated. So I don’t disagree with the decision, even if I do feel slightly personally annoyed that the group was cancelled.
    Though I’m sure that those same girls can find a community centre or church hall nearby that will host their group for them. It’s not the end of the world or even, necessarily, of their club.
    I definitely think the knitting/reading group is a good idea though. Here in London I Knit hosts the Kniterati book group. Which, ok, I’ve attended only once, but it’s a good group and I do want to go back soon. 🙂

  344. Before I wade in on the topic, I just want to say Good for you on your comment about flaming torches and all. It seems that when we want to go marching with flaming torches we usually haven’t heard all the facts. When a group of people gets that angry and acts in an angry manner, it makes it easier for the rest of the community to dismiss them. Sometimes being that angry defeats the purpose. Look at Gandhi and Martin Luther King. They were determined, had a purpose and acted on it. They were calm, deliberate, and effective. People heard them.
    As far as the library goes, I respectfully disagree. I live in a very small rural community in the U.S. that has a wonderful library in which I volunteer at least once a week. I understand limited resources. Many in our area are really struggling just to make ends meet. Our library and it’s staff looks at it’s mission a little differently. Since we are so rural, and the children in our community attend school in 3 different school districts, we tend to think of our library as a repository of books and information, a way to access the internet, a place to find official forms, to find out what’s going on in the area, a place to get free tickets to local attractions, etc. etc. I could go on and on. We finished expanding our library this spring. It took 3 years because most of the money used for construction was raised locally. Our library has doubled in size. Besides adding more book shelves, we also added more movies and DVD’s, more reference books, periodicals, computers, free wireless computer access, tables and chairs, and best of all, a community room. Our community room is available to all, even when the library is closed because it was designed to have separate access and keys when the library is closed. For a small library we have tremendous circulation and since the expansion, it has increased again. (Believe me on this one. I help re-shelve the books LOL!) The community room is always in use and you wouldn’t believe how many people use our library now, compared to before. People who never used the library before are now taking out books all the time. The number of new cardholders has grown beyond our wildest dreams. We have book clubs, yoga groups, Al-Anon meetings, open mike night, co-op groups, Literacy Volunteers, homework study groups, and many others all using our library and we love it. We have talked about having a youth knitting group but haven’t been able to set it up yet, but they would be welcome. I have several friends who are school librarians who’ve set up knitting groups for some of the children in their school. When they talk about their groups they all have one comment in common, the knitting groups bring in some children who never come into the library voluntarily. The same kids often become the most ardent readers over time. It’s pretty amazing. Just like the video night that the Ontario library wants to start, the knitting groups bring in more people to your library. While I don’t think that the girls are being dropped because of knitting, or that knitting itself it being dismissed, it does sound like the library is dropping them because it’s already successful. It sounds like they figured that they already have hooked these kids into loving the library, so it’s ok to let them go so they can try to get new ones. If you can have a video night, then the knitters should be able to stay. If it’s a matter of staffing, ask a parent to volunteer to supervise, or someone else in the community. Quite a few people suggested that a person can knit anywhere and that is true, but you can’t always learn something new just anywhere. I don’t know what it’s like in all communities, but almost every kid I know has some sort of video or computer game. They now can be played just about anywhere that a person can knit and many video games are just as portable as knitting. Knitting and other fiber arts have had a huge historical and artistic influence on human culture. It seems to me that passing the love of the craft to a new generation isn’t all that much different than passing on a love of history and literature. For me, libraries have always belonged to their communities, not just to the books. While I understand budget cuts, monetary restraints and all, I have to wonder if it has occurred to anyone that besides paying for a staff member to supervise them, video games run on electricity that costs the library money. Knitting doesn’t. I think they need a much better arguement.

  345. As a retired school and public librarian I am also disappointed by this decision. I ran a knitting group for middle school children after school in my library and would display books on knitting and other crafts which were checked out by the students. Reading and crafting after school instead of vandalism and the other problems this community had.
    The library IS a community center. We never turned anyone away. Any time you get children into a public library they are exposed to reading!
    I hope this library will reconsider.

  346. Our local library, with a small budget, keeps its programming mostly to literacy related activities. As a taxpayer, I think I mostly assume that is what they’ll use their budget for. But, it has meetings rooms and a ‘community room’ that any community group can sign up to use for almost any purpose. The staff unlocks the door and says ‘have fun’ so it is a minimal use of staff resources. (Someone else has to be in charge of the group; they aren’t.) It is a use of the physical plant, but they’d be maintaining the room anyway and the library does use it when they need it. And, like other commenters said, opening to the community brings the community in, encourages use of the library, and particularly for kids solidifies the idea that the library is somewhere you go for fun. Maybe they don’t have the space to do that, but I’m glad my library takes a path somewhere in the middle. (I’ll just bite my tongue on the video game issue…)

  347. hmmm…
    Perhaps they should remove the magazines about sports, too? Maybe all the books about sewing, knitting, and all the crafts…not even going into the realm of fiction…
    So let them gather a book on knitting, and learn new stitches at the table.
    Good grief. Promoting literacy. Oh, there’s value in that, sure. But there’s also value in being able to make your own garments and take care of yourself. There’s value in keeping kids off the streets and causing trouble. The library is a central meeting place for lots of people, but I suppose if they have so much “business” and there’s noplace else for the clientele to sit and enjoy a book when these “young girls” are taking up so much space.
    God help us all.

  348. I’m with the library on this one, even though the knitting group I belong to meets in a library! In our case, there is a community room to meet in, but maybe this library doesn’t have one. It’s not too much to ask them to discuss a book.

  349. I don’t see it as a big deal. Where is the local knitting store, or church or rec centre or willing parent of one of the girls etc. As to the video games I think that’s an effort to get the boys in. It’s a fact that girls read a lot more than the boys. My library has a computer corner and I often see kids in there playing games on them. These are neighborhood kids that have no computer at home (I know because I know some of them) These kids come back to use the computers for school projects as well. If you can get them in the door then maybe you’ll get them into other things the library has to offer (oh look… they have comic books or a magazine I like. Reading is reading)

  350. I don’t know if she’s looked over your site yet, but I got a turn around e-mail from Pamela Haley. Not doubt this whole thiing is a headache for her. Since I e-mailed her, it’s fair that I pass along her reply [the letter she is, no doubt, sending to all].
    August 19/08
    Pamela Haley wrote:
    A recent article in the Chesterville Record has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy surrounding the supposed “expelling” of young knitters from the library while retaining “gaming”. This article and the subsequent CBC report is factually inaccurate and decidedly premature.
    The Library does not have a problem with artistic expression and creativity. The history of programming in the SDG County Library has been, however, to offer programmes with only the making of a craft as its focus, e.g. build a bird house, make cards, decorate eggs, etc. This has drawn patrons in for the craft, who have left without “experiencing” the Library. What we are striving to do is to enhance that library experience by focusing on literature-based programmes. Preparing for these programmes is based on a widely accepted model that involves selecting a theme, and choosing literature and activities based on the theme, with crafts being the occasional addition to the programme.
    There was no specific targeting of the “Chix with Sticks” group. Indeed, we had placed a call for programmes in the branches and had not received any indication that there was a continued desire for this programme. Even if we had been notified, we would have asked the group to tweak their programme to fall in line with the new programming guidelines. What we are proposing is a programme called “Chix in Stitches” which is a female book club focusing on humourous “chick lit” that encourages knitting, crocheting, etc. during the discussions and a pot of tea to boot. The newspaper article that has sparked this controversy was written by a member of the “Chix for Stix” group (they don’t appear to be all children), who did not declare her conflict of interest in the article, nor did she report accurately on the information provided to her. Indeed, our Fall Programme Calendar has not even been finalized yet, so it seems a little premature to be criticizing something that is not even on offer yet.
    Teenagers tend to drift away from the library and do not return as adult users. Consequently, the need to entice them into coming to the Library. Video gaming is not provided as an end in itself. It is a draw and is part of a literacy based programme, for instance, having teens complete a “treasure hunt” amongst the library’s electronic resources before moving onto a gaming session. Additionally, there are educational video games.
    All libraries have a mandate to provide literature, literacy, and access to information. By refocusing the Library’s programmes to meet this objective we aim to improve our service to our community. As with any change, there are those whose own self interest makes the way forward a bumpy one.
    Thank you for your interest in the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry County Library.
    > Yours truly,
    > Pamela Haley, BA(Hons.), MLS, MPA
    > Manager, Library Services
    > Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry County Libraries
    > 613-936-8777 x226
    > phaley@sdglibrary.ca

  351. I’m a librarian, and I organize and run the monthly knitting group at my branch.
    It is part of our mandate as well to focus on literary based activities, but libraries need to think of themselves as more than just places for books. A library has long since moved away from that and needs to change and adapt as the world does. I believe that libraries should definitely be about literacy first and foremost, but they should also be a community gathering place where groups can meet and discuss things (quietly), share in conversation (also quietly), have fun, meet new friends, and realize that they can do so much more at the library than just read books. It’s the only way the institution is going to survive.
    If the library in question is worried about staff time being wasted on this program, they could cut down the number of meetings to once or twice a month, they can knit for local charities, they can discuss knitting books and patterns. If the children look forward to coming to the library, you’ve just created a lifer, and that’s what libraries need more than anything right now.

  352. I tend to agree with you, Stephanie… while it’s a shame that the little girls were disappointed, it IS the primary mission of the library to promote books and reading. There are other places that the arts and crafts groups could reconvene. In my hometown, the elementary schools open their facilities for community groups, Girl Scouts, etc. – maybe they could go there. Or to a LYS, the Y, a community center, etc. I can understand the argument that anything that gets kids into the library is good, but each community library has to weigh the needs of its particular customer base and determine what is the best use for its space given its budget, for which it is answerable to the town or county. And it doesn’t seem that this library is anti-knitting, just MORE pro-reading. Which kinda makes sense seeing as they’re, um, a library. Incidentally, the town I grew up in moved their library when I was a teenager, into a much nicer space (designed by my best friend’s dad, who is an architect), that just happened to be right down the street from the high school. My dad was furious, saying that the library would become “a hangout.” My mom, a teacher, pointed out that going to the library is a GOOD thing and if more teenagers are going to the library, maybe less teenagers will be getting into trouble… (and also that since my dad didn’t ever GO to the library he really shouldn’t complain). Our library did become “a hangout,” but as my mom predicted, none of the high school kids bothered anybody and they read a lot more.

  353. “When I’ve thought about all of that (and worked through the little bit of anger I had because I do think knitting is just that valuable) I have to wonder…
    Just because I don’t like their policy… does that really make it terribly wrong?”
    Oh, ha ha, dear Stephanie, that is the ONLY thing that makes something terribly wrong, is if the Imperial I doesn’t like it…. But perhaps living in Canada as you do, you have not yet been educated about what makes something Wrong….
    Sorry to be so snarky, I am in a crabby mood this morning!

  354. No matter how much I love knitting (and I do) I think it’s completely self-centered to think a library is there to serve everybody’s needs no matter what. It is not a public community. It is a library. A library is a place for books. It is funded to be a library. I do not think a library would ever turn anybody away because they are merely knitting. But to be asked and/or expected to provide staff and services for a group to something non-book related is above and beyond their job.
    If a knitting group wants to use the library’s services (staff, space, etc) then do what is necessary to make the group relevant to the library. What’s so wrong with having a book/knitting club. Seriously? We’re discussing this issue on the blog of someone who writes knitting BOOKS.

  355. I live in this area, it is my libraries that are being affected. So I would like to point out a few things.
    1) video game nights to attract the youth? They already come in to use the high speed internet to chat or play online games.
    2) it wasn’t that long ago that the people in charge removed a ton of books from the shelves because they weren’t being signed out. So now we have about half the books that were once on the shelves. These books are not being replaced, so how is that good for the promotion of literacy?

  356. I worked in a library for 4 years as a teenager and doing crafts was a regular part of the Saturday morning program in the children’s section. The idea was that it brought kids into the library for an activity (puppet shows are another example) and then they could take out some books after.
    I’m sure the knitting club serves the same purpose.
    Your pro/con points really reveal the wider problem which is that cuts to public services like libraries and community centres means that things like knitting clubs (which teach kids a neat skill and keep them off the streets/away from the tv) have no place to go. The library needs to focus on a narrow mandate because they are short staffed/under resourced.
    I wouldn’t complain to the library, I would complain to the muncipality and the province who are decimating these services.
    My community library doesn’t open until 10am (it used to be 9am) and there’s always a line outside at 9:45. It’s also now closed on Sundays; which used to be the perfect day to go to the library. It’s pretty sad.

  357. I’m sort of torn here. I’m on a limited budget, and the library is the place I go for all my knitting books and magazines. I utilize four library systems and 9 branches within a twenty-mile radius of my house. The local library has (or had) a knitting group for teens…but it is a building with tons of rooms for classes and community meetings. The quilt guild also met there until they needed more space, and as a result, that library has the best selection of quilting books also. So literacy and crafts can go hand in hand, and it seems short-sighted that this particular library can’t recognize that. I can see if they had space problems, they might need to cut back on what groups they give time and space to, but to imply that crafters don’t take out books or read seems quite odd considering the high number of crafting books, magazines, mysteries and other related books that most libraries carry, in addition to music to knit by!

  358. I’m sure there is a local church where the girls could hold there knitting club. Or maybe a lys in the area.

  359. One may bullyrag all one wants in one’s defense of various interpretations of “literacy” but if one is a literate person one does not begin one’s final argument with “lastly.” (Especially while berating one’s hostess with whose moderate position one professes to be “appalled.”)
    Now, does one?

  360. I am a trustee of our small, rural library, and I am a knitter. I think the issues are getting confused here: if the knitting club is coming out of the library budget, then the library is responsible for the content, and could easily add a book discussion component–it’s not up to the six-year-old girls to think of that. If a community group is using library space to conduct the knitting club, and the library feels it is important only to give space to book-related activities, then I guess that the knitting club would have to go. At our library, various community groups use our space for their activities, including a knitting group, a women’s game night, boy scouts, and a local preschool playgroup. We feel that there is great value in getting people into the library, for whatever reason: once there, they see the book displays, the new books, and so on, and usually someone checks out a book, thus satisfying our usage and literacy goals. Our library also provides programming–book clubs and discussion groups, lectures and poetry readings, travelogues, and so on–and sponsors a concert series in the summer. It takes place on Sundays, when the library is closed, and happens on the town green, not in the library building. No literacy-related activity happens here! People picnic, children play, the town hears some great music, and everyone knows the library is responsible for it. It’s great public relations and public service rolled up together. In the present age, when libraries have to compete with computers, the internet, and all the other electronics that distract people from books, we must be creative and think of new ways to bring people back to the library and to printed materials. Perhaps that library could stock a few knitting-related books to complement the knitting group. Perhaps someone could read those six-year-old knitters a story while they knit. Now, I’m afraid that those little girls, and their families, have simply been given reason NOT to use the library–and that’s too bad.

  361. I have read the article along with the opinions posted here on the blog site. I thought I would add my 2 cents worth.
    1. With library funding so tight in today’s financial world, we must do all we can to encourage the use of and funding of libraries.
    2. There is a missed oppurtunity for knitters here. What better place for a group of young knitters not only to knit, but to read and learn about knitting. This group could indeed combine 2 activities. The library has untold resources for this group. There are many books both fact and fiction, adult and child, that mention knitting within their text. What a wonderful opportunity for the leader of this book to mix literacy with a craft. Why not have an adult read to the children and have discussion about the content read.
    3. Fund raising for the local library could be an idea here. Knitters of the town could unite to help raise funds for this financially strapped institution. One of the first areas to have funding cut in many towns have been the libraries. In our small community, the quilters, and other artists have held fund raisers to ensure that our library can add or keep it’s current services.
    Some of my favorite memories as a child are of my weekly outings to the library. We would carefully choose our books and hand over our precious library card.
    Many children in today’s world are unaware that there is such a magical place anymore. It is not until services are taken away that people/parents raise a fuss….Well, we should be supporting and raising a fuss BEFORE services are taken away.
    I have to agree with the library board and Stephanie here, as harsh as it sounds, the young group of knitters will have to think of a way to combine literacy and knitting, or find a new knitting space.

  362. “Here’s another argument in favor of the library’s decision: The more I knit, the less I read.”
    This comment brought me a smile. I tend to knit *and* read at the same time…

  363. My local library got over $2000 for a set of 2 lcd’s, 2 wii and various games. I can’t say that is about literacy. (I think it’s more about a drug prevention program.) Knitting would be a more effective program, you’ed spend all your money on yarn and couldn’t afford drugs.

  364. Stephanie, it’s wonderful to hear a thoughtful, reasoned argument. No matter what the activity, no matter what the venue, no matter what the reason, our highest calling is to be compassionate and understanding, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. Much of what is wrong in the world is due to people assuming the worst and letting themselves get riled up with no real benefit to anyone.

  365. In light of the follow-up article in the Cornwall Standard Freeholder:
    it appears that the issue isn’t about knitting in the librariy after all. The article mentions tensions between the library administration and the Friends volunteer group. The administration reports to a library board made up of town councillors and volunteers, and is responsible for operations. The Friends of the Library volunteer group has a role that is analogous to School Councils in public schools, i.e. fundraising, and an advisory role. It appears that the Friends were perceived to be – or actually are – dabbling in operations, i.e. programming, and that when the administration pushed back, the Friends went to the press, which is a whole new level of playing politics.

  366. The library had me until the video night. I can imagine that the crafts started for much the same reason: to attract a younger crowd.
    Every time our local library has an event not directly related to literacy, they always have books related to that activity set up in the same area. Perhaps if you enjoyed the finger painting activity, you’ll enjoy this book about a little girl who finger paints. And so on. There are creative ways to connect reading to just about any activity. I remember vividly being told that if I wanted to learn to do something, I just had to find it in a book. In fact…that’s how I began my odyssey to learn to knit.

  367. To all who commented on the question (unanswered) of whether the girls, some as young as six, were left at the library unattended. You would not BELIEVE the number of parents who seem to think librarians are babysitters!!! They will turn pre-verbal toddlers loose, and pay no attention to them. If a fifteen-month-old is carried out screaming, I don’t know if he/she is being taken away by a parent or grandparent or the friendly neighborhood molester. I don’t know your child, I don’t know who he or she should be with, and if your child is so young that he won’t/can’t speak to me, how am I to tell. I have had to spend extensive time locating a parent who had let a baby under two just run loose. It’s damn scary, and children aged 6 to 10 are not immune from harm, either. If these kids were unsupervised, it could have been creating a real problem for the library. If you take your children to the library, please, please, keep watch over them. The librarians can’t do this.

  368. While I agree with your points in favor of the library (I understand this takes time and staff to put on), it also says in the article that they will be organizing video game nights for the younger crowd. Now, I’m hard pressed to see what video gaming has to do with literacy either. Make a rule and stick to it – that’s fine. But, really…video gaming?

  369. From the article:
    “She said the library’s new fall lineup includes teen book clubs and Scrabble nights. The library will also be holding some events not focused on literacy, such as video game nights, to attract a younger crowd.”
    Umm, in what way does playing video games support or encourage literacy?

  370. If the library wants to limit or cancel activities that are not based on literacy, then I feel that’s their perogative. However, it’s a bit conflicting to say in one breath that knitting is cancelled because it’s not literacy-based, but in the next breath say that video game nights will be permitted. I can only see that if they are the “learn-to-read” type of video games for younger children or something along those lines. Otherwise, I think it’s …umm… slightly hypocritical? to lure kids to the library with the exact thing they just said they’re going to do away with.

  371. thanks for a balanced look at this. and for all those who think that knitting (and other crafts) are important (and I do) and that they help learning (and I think they do), how about YOU step up to the plate and start a knitting group somewhere for these kids or kids in your own neighborhood. Rather than criticize the library who has a completely different mission and responsibility for stewardship of our tax dollars, step up and do something that you think is important. instead of saying that someone else “should”.

  372. If this were my library, I’d be raising heck. But I recognize that every library and community has limited funds. It’s not nice to tell other people how to spend their money.
    If this were my library, I might get mad enough to volunteer to run a program or mentor the young knitters. Or I might donate money to the library to help offset costs.
    This article and discussion could (should?) be a call to action for all avid knitters help young knitters. It’s easy for me to say, “You should…” or “Those Canadians should…” (I’m a US citizen) or “The government should…”, when the best thing I think I can do is call my library and see if they need help with a similar program.

  373. Have the girls form a knitting book club WITH their mothers (solving supervision and literary issues). They can have a project inspired from the book they’re reading – Jo March’s scarf, Mary Lennox’s woolen cap, etc.
    A complementary program for boys could involve similarly literature-inspired projects – miniature rafts from Huck Finn, that sort of thing.

  374. I agree with you. I just don’t understand why they are going to have “Video Game Night” that seems a little weird to me.

  375. I can get a little touchy about stuff like this, but it seems to me that the knitting group was ousted in favor of a video game night. The article makes it seem like the knitting circle was a girls club. I wonder who the video games are meant to attract?
    I’m not sure I can even get behind the “libraries are for reading” argument. Libraries are for information, in any form. My library has books and periodicals for both knitting and videogames. Cutting one program in favor of the other smacks of sexism to me, and it troubles me that such a young age group is feeling the effects.

  376. I have been a librarian for 39 years and I am horrified at the idea of a library system cutting out arts and crafts programs in favor of video games. Our library system has tremendous success in bringing in children and adults through our crafts programs. The idea that only literacy-based activities are appropriate will no doubt guarantee that fewer and fewer children, their parents and their older siblings will ever go to those libraries again. I’m glad my tax money doesn’t go to a system like that!

  377. Well, as much as I love knitting if I send my child to the library I want them to read and expand their minds not be distracted by wee ones with needles and yarn.
    If the kids want to knit so much let their moms rotate meetings at their houses or community centers.
    Don’t misunderstand, most of my spare time is spent knitting but while my child’s brain is most impressionable I’d want them reading. I think the library made the right decision for them.

  378. I believe that a library is for reading related things. I remember when I was a child we always went to programs revolving around reading, being read to etc. I do not remember ever going to the library to participate in a arts and crafts event.
    The parents should find somewhere else for the children to have their arts & crafts, video games, etc..
    It is the library’s job to provide reading materials and reading related activities, not to babysit our children while they do other things. (I am a mother of 6 children and have always held this belief)

  379. i think knitting during book group is a good idea. and who says book group can’t sometimes be about a knitting book? learning to learn things from books (if one hasn’t yet) is as literacy-promotional as learning critical thinking skills from books, even if differently so.
    decisions of public libraries w/r/t onsite activities are often are at least as much about space as about staff. space is a precious and spendy resource in any library.

  380. Wow, that is curious. I never would have thought of knitting in a library, especially kids knitting in a library. I’ve knit in a courtyard outside the library, sure, but never inside.
    Suddenly I have visions of a huge movement of peaceful protests across the land – people quietly enter the library at a set time every week, find a seat and silently knit on mass.
    As for the debate, I could see how knitting could be used as a gateway to get children interested in reading. You could show them books about knitting or with knitting plots (there are some fun mystery stories that revolve around yarn these days). If someone is interested in something, often, when given the chance, they will read about it. Also, it could be a knit-‘n-story-time. Someone reads a story while someone else quietly helps the kids knit.
    If done in this way, it could be keeping with the mandate of promoting literacy rather than free babysitting (what often happens at story time in the local bookshops).

  381. I think the library should only use their money and resources to support literacy. It’s not a community center. And I’d like to say wow 405 comments? What’s your record?

  382. Speaking of video games – has anyone seen OVERLORD?? It’s a RPG where you play a demon who has control over minions of little evil dudes that go around KILLING SHEEP!!!!

  383. Wow. A seriously inflammatory article with not nearly enough information. I agree with the poster up /\ there who didn’t like the title, but few newspaper reporters get to write the title as well.
    This is a group of six to ten year olds. It is not clear at all if this was a group of children who were dropped off for two hours, with the expectation that someone from the library staff would keep an eye on them, or if this was a planned group that a staffer had sponsored. If the problem was taking someone away from necessary tasks, one or more parents or other trusted adults should be there to supervise/chaperone. (If I knew of a group of children who wanted to meet somewhere to knit, I would most certainly volunteer!)
    Although some of the suggested literature for a book club was wonderful, was it appropriate for people whose age is a single digit? Jane Austen? Really?
    We almost all “lost it” when we got to the part that mentioned a video game night. My very sexist and ageist guess is that the librarian was looking for some way to get boys between the ages of eight and sixteen into the library in the hopes that books would leave with them. My nephew is a fan of manga graphic novels because of the connections to video games. He has been known to read books without pictures because they were somehow related.

  384. I doubt anyone from that library is reading these comments, but I thought I’d pop in again and reply to the letter that states that they are worried about the teens who drift away.
    Teens drift away from everything. Most community institutions complain about this. They may be able to lure teens in with gaming, but I doubt most of them will stay for the lit. This isn’t to say teens aren’t reading, though. Teen lit is one of the biggest, most successful book markets right now. More teens are buying books than ever before. So, why aren’t they luring the teens in with teen books?!
    If they are willing to do a gaming night, maybe they could do a knitting night? A non sexist, non “humourous chick lit”, knitting night? Just a thought, because that still irks me.
    Oh, and I like the idea of the knitting during a public reading. Many kids (and adults) need to do something with their hands when they sit. It helps them concentrate, it helps them pay attention. It even helps them retain what they hear.
    Thank you, Stephanie for allowing us to debate here. And thank you to all the commenters for keeping it so civil.
    Knit on!

  385. Wow that is one biased article.
    They really don’t give you any of the details that might explain the library’s overall thought process. Not much of a defense for the library is offered in it.
    Given the article though, my guess is the girls will reorganize the knitting group and have it be a book club around knitting magazines and patterns and knitting themed mysteries. Sounds like their community space must be at a premium.
    Opportunities are there all around for knitters to step up and help the library preserve Canadian culture.

  386. Completely off topic, and very ‘funny’ my friend who I haven’t talked to all summer, posted her point of view right before me. So I sent her an email, we caught up with each other…thanks Stephanie.

  387. Personally, I think the Itch & Stitch is a marvelous idea for youngsters who want to knit. I also believe reading and a love of books is also a marvelous idea for any age. AND, given that this could easily be made into a “Book Club that Knits” would make it the best idea. I so like that the library director is not trying to be mean to the kids and is trying to find a way to keep the kids in the library, off the streets, interested in their needlework, not watching tv is a big plus. I think moms could lend a hand and make it a really cool deal that could easily catch on!

  388. I think somebody should arrange to read aloud from chapter books while the kids knit. ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books, or the Roald Dahl books, maybe.

  389. The way I read the article, the library did not say that they could not knit, just that they could not sponser the group. So, I don’t see why the group member could not just meet same time as always, find a table and just knit. They can acknowledge that they are not being sponsored, but are there as a patron of the library, and check out a book on the way out.

  390. I have a masters’ degree in library sciences, and what really struck me as odd about that article is that the library would consider returning to programming predominantly focused on literacy to be a “revamping” of their institution.
    Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with literary programming, but libraries need to think outside the book, and arts and crafts are a way to do that, in my humble opinion. There’s always a way to link any activity back to the library and it’s more traditional services (by expanding the knitting book collection, for example).
    Plus, studies show that by getting children into the library as soon as possible, you are ensuring that they will become lifelong users. So their focus is on arts and crafts NOW – their interests will evolve over time. Unfortunately, I suspect that this particular group of girls will no longer consider the library to be an area where they feel welcome.

  391. Steph, were you feeling a little verklempt? I forgot to mention this yesterday, but in the words of Linda Richman…
    The peanut is neither a pea nor a nut. Discuss.
    It’s like buttah. :p

  392. My 2 cents–I agree almost 100% with YH. I think resources (time/space/money) are always finite and any organization has to decide how to allocate them. It certainly seems to me well within reason to decide that craft activities aren’t going to be a priority at a library.
    Here libraries are at least partially publicly supported community organizations and I do think the community has some voice, but within proper channels. I think erring on the side of trusting an organization to make these decisions is a good way to go.
    I do personally question putting video games as a higher priority at a library, but as some others said, there may very well be more to it than appears.

  393. Yes, there are books about knitting. But there are also books about video games. Depending on the games chosen, there’s a lot more possibility to teach literacy and other things through video games than through knitting.
    Of course, if the video games being played are the likes of “Guitar Hero”, that makes the above moot.

  394. Rams at 9:42 a.m. – Your comment is so nasty it made me cringe. Believing someone else’s opinion to be wrong-headed or ill-expressed (not everyone has, or almost has, a PhD in English) is not a license to skewer. With all due respect, I don’t believe that Stephanie needs you to stand at the door of her virtual living room with a flaming sword. I also believe that ignoring bad manners is preferable to sinking to the same low level.
    Now for truth, perception, blitheness of spirit and just plain poetry, give me elizabeth a airhart every time.
    Gonna go knit a sock now.

  395. Usually I agree with you about most things, Stephanie. But I think you’re rolling over, here. This library is discriminating, and they ought to be called on it. The article readily points out that they are planning Scrabble nights, and teen movie nights, to attract other groups. Which really means, that the library staff wishes to INCLUDE some groups and EXCLUDE others. (Now, why anyone would prefer teens over sweet 6 yr olds is beyond me). Perhaps anyone who has ever gone to a library to check out a “How To” book for any sort of craft ought to boycott this library. Then perhaps they can see that “crafty” people ARE indeed literary people as well!!!

  396. Our Green Bay, Wisconsin East Branch library specifically has a monthly knitting night, where knitters young and old gather. I think any time kids can be brought together for a positive purpose, go for it. Encouraging comfort and friendship and learning new skills in the presense of other young women, can only be a positive experience for them. And as a bonus, the library becomes a spot that remain tied to in their hearts. Remember too, not all of the kids that come to gatherings of this sort come from homes or atmospheres that are as nurturing as they could be. We have a societal responsibility to one another. Libraries are safe and neutral. I think the library should reconsider their position. Their decision is flawed.

  397. How involved is the library with this group? Just because the group meets there, doesn’t mean that the library staff is involved. I knit with a group at a local bookstore cafe and the cafe staff isn’t involved with the knitting. I agree that the primary focus of a library should be reading and promoting reading, but can the library space not be used/rented by community or private groups?
    I would love to sit and knit w/my group at my library, but we’d probably make too much noise! 🙂

  398. Marsha @3:59 — As H.L. Mencken used to reply, “Dear Sir or Madam — You may be right.”

  399. I attend our local library for two different knitting groups. One is sponsered by the library and the other is an informal group that uses the library space. We share and discuss more books in the non-sponsered group. I agree with many, the article doesn’t give enough pertinent information. I also agree that literacy could easily be introduced into the knitting mix with only good results. I just hope the girls use this opportunity to learn about compromise and win/win situations.

  400. I’ve read both articles and all the comments and it just makes me so grateful for my local library. Our library has embraced the idea of being a community center. When our new building was being designed, the Big Name Architect said it could be planned to be unwelcoming to the city’s homeless population. The library director said, “No. They are welcome here.”
    I received the library’s quarterly newsletter today. There are many author lectures, a book festival, a Native American history series, business and finance workshops, film screenings, mental health week events. In partnership with a community college there are a dozen writing workshops including writing letters to the editor, NaNoWriMo, and text messaging.
    For kids there’s the Daring Book club for girls and the No Girls Allowed club for boys. Some science festivals, a reading marathon, and baby sign language classes.
    For teens there’s DDR and Guitar Hero, the Teen Guy book club, a movie festival where the movies were all made by teens, a zine making workshop, altered book workshop, and a panel presentation by YA authors.
    Adults classes include 23 basic computer classes, how-to classes ranging from how to look at a painting, to how to exercise with nordic walking poles. The library is sponsoring a six-word memoir project.
    And, yes, the library sponsors a knitting and crocheting group. “Each month we provide a nifty handout with resources geared towards a special stitch project.” Stephanie has spoken at our library and so has Debbie Stoller.
    The end result of all this? The number of library cards issued has skyrocketed, it’s an exciting place with that constructively busy hum, and the Salt Lake City Library was named library of the year a couple years ago.

  401. Well, I am a librarian and I would just add that this argument goes round and round endlessly all the time! There are always die-hards who insist on books and only books in the library as well as modernists wanting libraries to morph into more community center-type spaces and everything in-between. I do think its a shame that the library is no longer holding the knitting group (I confess, I lean towards the modernists) but there is just no one right answer that will make everyone happy. I am just glad I work in a library that feels that anything that brings in patrons is a good thing. Once you’re in the library, who knows? Maybe you’ll glance at a book while you’re waiting for your turn on the computer?

  402. I read the article and while I am fortunate enough that my local library has a knitting Sunday twice a month, I dont see the problem with asking the girls to discuss a book while they knit. It is a library and while I do find a bit of a double standard in having video game nights, I dont think it is too much to ask.

  403. Agree (1)
    It could be a simple effort to read a knitting book and discuss, not to mention the valuable skills the girls might add to their knitting as it is. There is tons of reading and some math skills involved…

  404. I didn’t get the impression at all from that article that the library was running a program and devoting staff to it. Was it mentioned somewhere else? There are groups of kids that hang out at my library, and no staff has to sit with them. Something missing from the article?

  405. Everybody, read the reply to the article from Maureen at 8:25 AM. It answers a lot of questions and totally changes the perspective of the original article. As Maureen stated, the article is totally premature and misses some important facts. I think you will find that the library is really looking to improve programming and certainly a video night is not yet on the calendar.

  406. I think the headline also had a lot to do with the outrage. It makes it sound as if you would be searched and if a knitting needle or crochet hook were to be found on you while you were attempting to enter the library, you would be hauled away to jail. Craft ban!

  407. In the interest of literacy, you’ve got to change your use of the apostrophe as in:
    “more of it’s activities towards literacy” should be “more of its activities towards literacy”

  408. At first I kinna got my knickers twisted at the thought of the knit club being told,no more. However you have pointed out quite well the library view point,which I now understand,and tend to agree with, However,those video (or whatever their called)games the kids play (old and young kids) have no place in the library either,so I for one say out they go, AND,no eating lunch, and My personal favorite..no cell phone talking.(of course that may only be done at my local library). Can’t a person just sit down and read,and enjoy that experience. From a knitter,and reader(library lover).

  409. I can understand the views of the library, but to out the knitting group and allow a videogame group. That doesn’t sound right. I think it would be great for the girls to have a book(knitting/crochet related mostly?)to discuss while knitting/crochet. Books and reading is the main goal of a library. As long as your craft is a quiet one, why not allow it while reading.

  410. At first I thought they should just find another spot to meet like the local yarn shop, no big deal but then saw that the library is going to allow video games! So how literary is that. Does that promote reading? I don’t think so. Reading knitting patterns is much harder than playing video games! But I still think they can turn lemons into lemonade by finding anothe fun place to meet.

  411. At first I thought they should just find another spot to meet like the local yarn shop, no big deal but then saw that the library is going to allow video games! So how literary is that. Does that promote reading? I don’t think so. Reading knitting patterns is much harder than playing video games! But I still think they can turn lemons into lemonade by finding anothe fun place to meet. I think it is great that those girls like knitting and are getting together to do it.

  412. My position: Since when is a library not a community center? The community is paying for it, the community gets a vote in how it’s used.
    My guess from the brief discription in the article is that they’re trying to update the libary’s image — make it seem more hip (or cool, or whatever the word is these days). Video game nights and board game nights — cool, with teen appeal. Kids knitting — not cool.
    It sounds like the kids were just sitting around a table and knitting. The spiel about how it would all be OK if the girls would just discuss books suggests that it’s not a funding, space, or supervision issue — or at least, if it is that’s not the explanation the library is giving.
    As the article said, they’re revamping themselves to attract more people, which means the teens (especially teen boys) are in and the little kids (especially little girls) have got to go. I bet they wouldn’t really let them meet there even if they made it a book club, since this doesn’t seem to be about literacy — as others have pointed out, video games are no more literacy-related than books are.

  413. I love knitting, I love that places are encouraging kids to knit BUT when I read this I thought if the Library are going to focus on getting kids to read more I see this as a good thing. Yes its a real shame the arts stuff is being cut but to be honest as a mum of young kids I have to say that when I talk to others and hear just how little some kids read, or even read to I was really quite dissmayed. I do read to my kids every night, have done since they were tiny tots and think its paid off. My eldest is now reading beyond his age and his writing and communication skills are fantastic, my youngest is well on his way too. I think reading and writing are very very important and to be honest are quite neglected these days, text speak for example….kids arent learning how words are spelled correctly or how REAL stentences are formed. If a library are offering to hep with this I think that can only be a good thing, yes creative stuff is very important but if we want new designers and knitters in a generation or two it would be good if they are all competent readers and writers too.

  414. Well I have read many of the comments listed and I agree if the young knitters want to continue to knit there and they aren’t using library staff, then the group should be permitted to continue to meet there. They may or may not want to add a book to the discussion, heaven knows there are enough knitting books and non-knitting books with knitting references. Harry Potter anyone? What I want to know is the end result of this. Please let us know what happens when the dust settles.

  415. Like a lot of folks, I think the library (government agency) has the right to decide what goes on within its walls. I do wonder about the apparent double standard between knitting needles and video games.
    At first, I imagined a group of giggling girls and the noise level. Then, I remembered the group of bellowing boys (and girls) when the school had a video game night.
    Both groups require supervision.
    The question I have, like many of the said others is: Why are video games OK and knitters not OK?
    I don’t get it.

  416. Arguments understood all round (except perhaps the literary link to videos). Surely one of the parents of the girls would love to have, as I certainly would, a batch of them knitting in my living room, no matter how small the room or how many the children. It would warm the cockles of my heart. I’d surround them with knitting & other books, on the off chance that someone besides myself would actually like to have a look at them. But, maybe in this day & age, other mothers wouldn’t be willing to leave the little ones in a private home….?

  417. I actually run a knitting group at my local library. I am not a librarian or paid by the library to do so. However I volunteer my time to run the group, teach knitting, bring in speakers etc. Perhaps some of the people who are upset should volunteer to run a program which will take the burden off the staff and still keep the program running. Harlot…we’d love to have you come speak…coming to northern NJ anytime soon????

  418. This answer from the library was posted on a CBC discussion board:
    This is the answer I received from Pamela Haley:
    A recent article in the Chesterville Record has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy surrounding the supposed “expelling” of young knitters from the library while retaining “gaming”. This article and the subsequent CBC report is factually inaccurate and decidedly premature.The Library does not have a problem with artistic expression and creativity. The history of programming in the SDG County Library has been, however, to offer programmes with only the making of a craft as its focus, e.g. build a bird house, make cards, decorate eggs, etc. This has drawn patrons in for the craft, who have left without “experiencing” the Library. What we are striving to do is to enhance that library experience by focusing on literature-based programmes. Preparing for these programmes is based on a widely accepted model that involves selecting a theme, and choosing literature and activities based on the theme, with crafts being the occasional addition to the programme.There was no specific targeting of the “Chix with Sticks” group. Indeed, we had placed a call for programmes in the branches and had not received any indication that there was a continued desire for this programme. Even if we had been notified, we would have asked the group to tweak their programme to fall in line with the new programming guidelines. What we are proposing is a programme called “Chix in Stitches” which is a female book club focusing on humourous “chick lit” that encourages knitting, crocheting, etc. during the discussions and a pot of tea to boot. The newspaper article that has sparked this controversy was written by a member of the “Chix for Stix” group (they don’t appear to be all children), who did not declare her conflict of interest in the article, nor did she report accurately on the information provided to her. Indeed, our Fall Programme Calendar has not even been finalized yet, so it seems a little premature to be criticizing something that is not even on offer yet.Teenagers tend to drift away from the library and do not return as adult users. Consequently, the need to entice them into coming to the Library. Video gaming is not provided as an end in itself. It is a draw and is part of a literacy based programme, for instance, having teens complete a “treasure hunt” amongst the library’s electronic resources before moving onto a gaming session. Additionally, there are educational video games.
    As a librarian myself, it is not a necessarily an action I would take. It is my opinion, and solely a personal opinion, that libraries need to serve _all_ members of the community to connect them with information in a variety of forms. The adult foster care homes in my community are heavy library users. Just because developmentatlly disabled adults are unable to read, does that mean we’re not supposed to serve their needs with music and movies? I don’t think so. Libraries have gone far beyond texts for a long time. Information exists in a multitude of forms–printed, visual, online, audio, performance, and hands-on demonstration. Yes, fostering and encouraging reading and literacy is a core mission of libraries, but not necessarily the only one.
    We have teen video game tournament events, but we’re also trying to work with a LYS to plan our city’s “first knit-in.” And Stephanie–if you could give us a head’s up on who and when to contact to get in on your next book tour, Fargo is only a short detour south from the ‘Peg.

  419. IMO – knit n read and discuss.. it’s not a huge request. It’s a library for pete’s sake.
    library (from Oxford dictionary)
    • noun (pl. libraries) 1 a building or room containing a collection of books and periodicals for use by the public or the members of an institution. 2 a private collection of books. 3 a collection of films, recorded music, etc., organized systematically and kept for research or borrowing: a record library. 4 (also software library) Computing a collection of programs and software packages made generally available.
    If the library were a community center- and the group were asked to leave,I believe it would be different. I’d be carrying a torch made from giant needles wrapped with bamboo yarn and dipped in lanolin…. I’d be linked arm in arm staging a sit in and wearing my bellbottoms….
    But it’s not. So, I won’t.
    I think re-focusing to the mission statement is wise in most situations… utilizes resources for their intended purposes.
    There can also be legal issues with grant money (which is often used to fund libraries) all money must be accounted for, in regards to it’s being spent according to the grants’ intent. Audits are necessary as are re-focusing to meet goals established byt the library.
    just mah 2 cents.

  420. I worked in a small-town public library for 11 years. Kids with books, or knitting needles for that matter, did not take nearly as much of our staff time as patrons on computers. Now that I work in an academic library, and just use the public library as a patron, I see the same thing. I have absolutely no idea why a group of girls meeting to knit requires _any_ staff time or money. Do the little girls come up to the desk and ask for help decreasing stitches or casting on? As someone previously asked, is the library providing their materials? I will guess the answer to both is no. On the other hand, how much do the video games cost? Are there special upgraded computers/monitors or game systems that the library has invested in to better facilitate playing those games? Probably. Video gaming night may bring teens into the door – straight to the computers – and then back out again. Not every town has an abundance of community centers or alternative places for these little girls to meet. Chances are, at least one of their parents is also in the library, perhaps (gasp!) reading and checking out materials while the girls are there. Be glad they’re increasing your gate count, and make a couple of craft book displays to tempt them to use their library cards.

  421. Thanks for your measured comments. I agree with you (librarian once-upon-a-time),libraries have to focus on literacy(of whatever sort). They are not community centres and would not have been put in this situation if they didn’t have to deal with budget cuts. It seemed to me that the librarian was trying to find a way to let the little knitters stay.

  422. As a aside: after reading about this and posting here, I went to one of my local library websites to search for a book, and lo and behold, they are starting a knitting/book discussion club…on a night I can attend! But the book they have chosen (non-knitting related in even a tangential way, to my eye) does not interest me in the slightest bit…not one iota…but I feel that with many groups, if you are not there for the first meeting, it’s hard to join later. So now I’m torn again, as to whether to slog through a book I could barely read the synopsis of, just to feel like part of a group and not a late-comer. This is also the type of anxiety that keeps me from joining any existing knitting clubs in the area…sigh.

  423. You know, the more I read about this, the more it seems to me that there’s more going on than we know. Probably because little girl knitters getting banned from the Library is a better headline than Library looking at reformulating fall programme lineup or Library and its Friends group in disagreement over programming.
    I think we’ve been manipulated folks!

  424. Reading the second article, I got a sinking sensation.
    If the problem is a power struggle, well, then, one can *envision* a case where *all* the children’s activities planned in the Library by the Friends of the Library are directed at that demographic– preteen girls–, and/or are (solely) craft activities… and the Friends of the Library volunteers running them are not willing to leave time/space for other kinds of events.
    I’m not claiming this is true here. But it *is* true that it’s easy for programs to fall into a rut, where the activities are all aimed at a certain demographic (often toddlers with their Mommies, or Career Women, or Senior Citizens) or be a certain kind of event, and fossilize. People tend to play to their own strengths and sometimes they get rather obdurate about changing.

  425. I wonder if any of us would be as upset if the library eliminated a group meeting to basketweave, build birdhouses, or do any of the various other crafts to which we are NOT emotionally attached….

  426. Have been following this story for a while and I still don’t understand how/why video games can promote literacy and an already-established knitting group does not. Makes no sense to me. I think both could be valuable “draw” tools. Maybe it has something to do with the frequency of meetings and how many the library can support, but then, why cut the knitting group completely? Still, this might be much ado about nothing considering this is about one very small library.

  427. As an avid knitter and librarian, I really appreciate your even handed perspective. Libraries can be (and often are) small and poorly funded. Even getting the cash / staff / time / space to support literacy initiatives is tough, such work has to be the priority.

  428. As a librarian who knits and runs a knitting club at my place of employment, I have more than a few thoughts on this…
    As many have mentioned it’s too bad that we don’t have a few more details about the situation, such as what involvement/cost the library has with the knitting group. At my library our knitting program doesn’t require any cash outlay (we rely on donations of supplies) but it does require staff time (2-3 hours per week, depending on the time of year). And while that may not seem like much, in times of economic uncertainty and shrinking city budgets, libraries are vulnerable and often have to cut back in any way they can.

  429. I live not far from a very small, one room community library. I don’t think it is open more than 12-15 hours a week. It is staffed by volunteers. It is funded by donations and street fairs. It is a great place.
    Not all libraries are able to provide space, staff and funds for activities not related to literacy. I think the suggestion by the manager of library services is a good one- have a book club where the members are welcome to knit, crochet, etc. while discussing what they have read.

  430. I am with a previous poster in that I am not sure how video gaming (although I am a gaming fan) supports literacy. Getting children inside the library is less than half the battle when you are talking about promoting literacy and pleasure from book reading. In my humble oppinion it must start very young at home before the classroom is available. I think that the dollars spent on video gaming parties should be spent on more young children’s reading hours aka “Story Time” for infants, todlers, and young children. Having a Harry Potter round table type discussion with older children wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
    I am not saying that the knitters should have been kicked out either but I do see the point. My initial reaction was to go burn the place probly just like everyone else. But if they are going to be spending their money “promoting literacy” I would sugest that they not do a regular video game party for the same reason that they kicked the knitters.

  431. Stephanie, I may be able to shed a little light. I grew up in Long Sault, and spent a lot of time in that library.
    The librarians there were (and are) committed to keeping the place open, despite the very small size of the town. The library isn’t very large (it’s actually the back half of the volunteer fire department), and is a single room.
    It has enough tables, computers, and chairs for the patrons to use, but hardly on par with a bigger city library. It also, when I lived there, wasn’t open all the time like a bigger library was. With limited hours, that may have had an effect. Also, municipal monies won’t pay for non literacy initiatives. That means that one issue -may- simply be that when the girls are knitting there, the librarian is being seen, by the township, as providing babysitting, not librarianship. Cut funding.
    In the past, librarians at that library have run almost summer-camp like activities – crafts, arts, reading contests every year. While the knitting club is likely being used as a piece of rhetoric, the truth is that the librarians used to, when I lived there at least, end up volunteering their time almost as many hours as they worked. if the township has decided not to fund it, then that makes keeping it open hard.
    The other thing to realize is that Long Sault has, basically, two public buildings. There’s the arena, and the library. In the summer time, the library is the only building with air conditioning where you can sit. If the problem is that, with limited seating, the choice is readers or knitters, readers win.
    It’s easy to point fingers and tut, but, having lived in the town, it’s a very practical, pleasant, family oriented, and SMART village. I’m fairly certain that issues like “who’s watching the children” and “the budget won’t pay for the lights to be on” are more likely than “evil librarian eats kids for brekkie.”

  432. Okay, I’m a teen librarian for a major urban library system (granted in the US) but I think I know what I’m talking about.
    Anyone who thinks that libraries are warehouses for books doesn’t have a very good public library. Libraries _are_ community centers. In many communities libraries are the only places all are welcome.
    I do both knitting and video game programs, along with book, writing, health programs etc.
    Teens are checking out books after these programs, and please remember that someone who never comes to the library will _never_ check out a book.
    Libraries are in the business of building life-long learners (future customers). Programs are to promote the library collection, and not just the fiction. We have knitting books and video game books etc etc so we have programs to promote them.
    These progams foster many developmental assets and provide structured social opportunities that are essential to teen development.
    I can only assume that politics are in play in this situation as the only reason for ending such a library sponsored program is that the attendance is low compared to other events.

  433. Leaving out the part that knitting uses BOTH SIDES OF YOUR BRAIN from the get go…
    Our libraries here in my county manage to use the meeting rooms for all sorts of non-knitting related meetings/activities that also haven’t squat, thing one to do with the books in the library. Zoning meetings on what is going to be built where next. Voter registration. Sign language class (while involving communication does not get them checking out a book) Etc. Etc. None of these things cost the library a thing (since the groups have to rent the space) and bring no readers into the library BOOK space proper. However, being there already has many a person turn the corner from the meeting room hall and go look at the books, the videos THE BOOKS ON TAPE THAT THE LITTLE GIRLS AT YOUR LIBRARY COULD PLAY WHILE THEY FREAKIN’ KNIT. Most libraries have a smaller collection of BOT than they would like because people really haven’t caught on to the fabulousness of them. It seems to me the Librarians could sit them in a public, but not disruptive area, and let them listen whilst promoting an actual library item. The knitting and the BOT could both catch on to a tolerable zone for the library to ‘put it back’
    Re the “library is paying for it”…If the little girls need some CASH to fund their corner of the library, let me know. Someone can set it up through Paypal and we’ll all contribute our little bits. They could be knitting through the next millenium if we all send one dollar. We’ve met us.
    I’ve been reading since I was 4, knitting since I was 12. As most of us do, I do buy books with patterns in them. I also buy whole series of fiction because they are knitting related mysteries.(I do say buy because I am a librarian’s nightmare…after I bring the book home and read it, it’s mine…they can’t have it back…it’s MINE…so I save myself the gargantuan late fees) After I’ve read them, and been taken in a book to places I’ve never been, I tend to look for more books that are about the places described, or knitting books for techniques I’ve not tried. This is the purpose of a library…to make you want to learn, expand your horizons and grow. With the advent of the internet, you would think they would want to do ANYTHING to keep as many butts in the stacks as they could.
    I think books, knitting and tea (and in some venues beer) are intermingled purposely by a higher power as the soothing stress reducers they are.
    Maybe that’s just me.

  434. As a former children’s librarian, this kind of crap incenses me. I ran knitting programs for adults as well as for teens and younger children, and books were involved in ALL of them–not in the discussion sense, per se, but in the following-a-pattern sense, not to mention all the history and culture surrounding fiber arts that one can present. Teaching children to teach themselves from reading is a tremendously worthwhile endeavor. Instilling in them the independence and confidence of knowing they can MAKE or DO whatever they want by interpreting a few squiggly lines on a piece of paper is MAGICAL. Shame, shame on that library!

  435. I am way behind on this, for good reasons, but nonetheless…I love this discussion! I do believe that a rather large part of true functional literacy is reading directions. I have a vague memory of a workshop in which I learned(?) that a large number of American adults are functionally illiterate, and that there are different categories of functional literacy. I don’t know about Canadians, whom I believe in my heart to be more literate in general than Americans.
    A big lack in many sectors of society is reading directions of any kind. Reading knitting patterns fits right into that.
    If the library’s mandate is literacy in general, then reading pattern directions for knitting would be a valuable contribution to this. If their mandate is narrower, as in literature-type literacy, then knitters are screwed in this context.
    I totally agree with Stephanie that this issue is not black-and-white at all. Maybe the folks who love knitting in that community need to step in and start a knitting club in the community center or the school? Maybe we should all think about doing so in our own communities?

  436. Why not make the crafts that have been banned into a kind of practical book club, where kids and kids at heart can try out the techniques in the craft section of the library with each other.
    While I agree there are a lot of shades of grey in this issue and I can understand a library in a small place not having room for craft groups, they are one of my fondest memories of the library as a kid.
    The library where I grew up in country Australia ran kids craft, games and story time activities during school holidays for either free or a small fee where kids got dropped of while mum and dad did all off the farm errands, which made the library a normal place to be and has left many kids who would not otherwise have touched a book due to a lack of books in the home with the knowledge of how to use a library and an acceptance of books because they feel comfortable and had a lot of fun there.
    Groups like this would teach kids (the future workforce) to think “outside the box” like they always tell you in those business improvement courses,and the skills needed to be functionally literate.

  437. THIS IS NOT A BIG PROBLEM. Communicating with one another is. I have read the article which was very sketchy on details. I cannot believe that Library staff is holding these knitting bees, more likely a parent or parents are chaperoning them. Don’t get too carried away with the fact that the dreaded video games and or board games are taking over. As a former teacher I can tell you that many studies have been done on hand eye coordination and the ability to read. Children who skip crawling…those who go from rolling around on the floor to walking have a more difficult time reading. This has to do with hand eye coordination. Often to improve reading, parents are asked to have their children crawl around on the floor. It is important that they progress with a right arm, left knee and left arm right knee crawling. It is the opposite limbs moving in sync that creates the hand eye coordination. Children who crawl using the right hand and right knee together and the left hand and left knee together to advance have a much more difficult time learning. Knitting, spool knitting, weaving, crocheting and tatting as well as playing video and board games help to develop the skills needed to read. If these young ladies are knitting they are improving their hand eye coordination as well as excercising their brains to visualize what they are doing. In addition they are reading patterns and books about knitting. The American Girl books would be a nice read while they are knitting as those books tell about another time in our history when self sufficiency and creativity was valued. When mothers made children’s clothes and cobblers made shoes. There are knitting patterns for the American Girl dolls too. Being able to create something is a valuable skill/art and should be encouraged. A parent could read to these girls…just like story time or the girls could go to Story time at the Library if it has one and knit there. They could also assign a subject for each knitting time where each girl could do her research in the library prior to the knitting class They could research The history of knitting, different types of yarns, history of yarns and threads,what processes are used to make yarn and dye yarn, what kinds of yarns are available and what they are made of,how beads are made and used in knitting, Fisherman’s sweaters and what each pattern means,the history and construction of Ganseys…the ideas are endless. One girl could do a little presentation on something or they could all research the same topic and discuss what they found out. We need to concentrate on getting children and adults into the Library. We should not be sending them away.

  438. I agree. The library is not a community center and should not be required to provide space to groups that are not book related. As a knitter and the mother of a knitter I love the idea of a kids knitting group however I think that the library should be primarily for books.

  439. I work at a Library and have been researching starting a teen knitting group. Here is a blurb from the ALA American Library Association website…
    Get Crafty @ your library
    Teens enjoy being creative and the opportunities to create become fewer and fewer at school as they get older. Time spent at the library actively creating is fun, productive, and gives the librarian wonderful opportunities to interact with teens. A constructive use of time, including time spent in creative activities, is one of the 40 Developmental Assets teens need.
    Knitting @ your library! Start a knitting club and share booktalks or audio books while you knit. Teens can make their own projects or knit squares to be contributed to a blanket or lap robe project for senior residents.
    Our library also provides gaming nights as well as programs about travel, gardening, investing, ethnic dancing, and on and on. If you have what the population is interested in, they will come. Once they come, they will come back…people line up on Sunday mornings waiting for our library to open. It is astounding! Teaching people about new ideas might just bring them in to check out books on those subjects, knitting books, travel books, gardening…you catch my drift. So that’s my $0.02.

  440. One of my favorite things to do while I knit is to listen to audio books. There are many children’s classics on tape or CD that these little knitters could listen to as they knit together. A shared creative and literate experience!

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