because they’ve turned into malls. I’m sitting in your run-of-the-mill Denver suburban library, with its fancy glass, views of the mountains, neato architecture, and ample parking and all I can see are hormones in the guise of adolescents trolling around, checking each other out, chatting away (loudly) on their cell phones, and (yuk!) even making out.

As a former full-time teacher at a public high school, I am well aware of the notion of babysitting. Many parents send their kids to school or to the library because let’s face it, they’re out of your hair for a while. So they’re like, “Yeah, mom, I’m going to the library, I’ll be home by 6!” So, um, like yeah, they go to the library but they aren’t getting an ounce of schoolwork done. I haven’t seen one adolescent take out a single book. I have watched them apply lipstick, listened to them prattle on about what happened at lunch in school today, and smelled the afterglow of their THC break.

Back in the 80s, when we wanted to disappear, we went to the mall (no I didn’t grow up in New Jersey). Sometimes we spent hours in the arcade, dropping our quarters in, dollar after dollar, shooting or driving around things. Other times we actually shopped. But when we loitered, Mr. Security Guard would usher us along so we could loiter somewhere else like around the corner. Then our parents picked up us at five. Rinse. Repeat the following weekend.

There’s a couple of security guards here but as these kids, however annoying they are, aren’t actually breaking any library rules, nothing is being done. The nooks and crannies and open seating of the library aren’t nearly as expansive as the mall so the decibel levels get higher and higher, just like my blood pressure.

Parents–the library is not your babysitter. If your kids are going to the library every day after school, getting work done, they’re not. They’re doing what teenagers do–getting pratice in the dating game, gossiping, doing drugs, checking each other out, and basically being a pain in the ass to any adult within a fifty-foot radius.

This girl just came up to me to ask if she could use my laptop. I just saw her get told by the librarian there was a half-hour wait to use the computers. So, she figured she would just use mine, ya know, when I’m done, ‘cuz, ya know, she needs it to check her MySpace.

Shhhhh! Here comes the librarian. I miss those days.