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How far is it reasonable to walk to a bathroom from a children's area in the library?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Our newly renovated library has a nice children's area with a little puppet theater, craft table, computer stations and toys. However, the bathroom the kids (and adults) are allowed to use is outside the actualy library. One has to walk through the library (from the back of the library where the kids' corner is,) through a hallway, and into the main area of the community center. Then into another short hallway around the corner, where the bathrooms are.

 

There's a bathroom inside the library, in plain view, with the door open, but it is marked "Staff Only." Children and patrons are allowed to use this bathroom during "library events", but not when just attending the library.

 

Do you think this is a reasonable arrangement? If not, how would you approach the issue with the staff?

post #2 of 30

That does sound very annoying.  My library also has an annoying set up, the bathrooms are just across the library from the children's area not too far, but you have to go get a key from the main desk to use them.  I just needed the bathroom for a diaper change one day and didn't realize I needed a key, once I saw that though I just quickly changed him in the little hall outside the bathrooms.  With a young child that would be such a pain to have to go get a key first. 

 

If I were you I would talk to someone about using the staff bathrooms.  If you had a young child or multiple children that had to be dragged along with you to the bathroom that would be difficult.  There's no harm in asking, right? 

post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

I was told at some other occassion that I could use the staff bathroom, but today I was told I couldn't, when I went there with my 2 yo. I did bring it up with yet third librarian, on check out--that it was inconvenient, and she said there was nothing she could do. I guess I could continue using it (it is mostly my 2yo that needs to go about 2-3 times when we are there), but I just feel so uncomfortable after today's comment.

 

The other option is to haul all of us, all the winter jackets, bags and so on, to the far away bathroom...or leave my other two kids in the library. Which is not a bad option, and I trust them to behave, but it seems it will be frowned upon by the staff as well.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gillian28 View Post

That does sound very annoying.  My library also has an annoying set up, the bathrooms are just across the library from the children's area not too far, but you have to go get a key from the main desk to use them.  I just needed the bathroom for a diaper change one day and didn't realize I needed a key, once I saw that though I just quickly changed him in the little hall outside the bathrooms.  With a young child that would be such a pain to have to go get a key first. 

 

If I were you I would talk to someone about using the staff bathrooms.  If you had a young child or multiple children that had to be dragged along with you to the bathroom that would be difficult.  There's no harm in asking, right? 

post #4 of 30

Our library is similar. The restrooms are outside the main library, pretty far from the children's area and out in a 'community' type area by the conference center/multi-purpose rooms. Nearer to the entrance of the common area than the library itself.

post #5 of 30

Gee, I think walking more than 30 feet with a poopy or throw-up covered toddler would cure anyone of trying to place the restrooms so far away. If I had an emergency, I would defiantly storm the staff bathroom.

post #6 of 30

our newer libraries have bathrooms in the kid areas, I really think if the library has one there then they need to let patrons use it.  I know I would regardless of it being "staff only"  it's absurd to not let little kids use it

post #7 of 30

oh and I would tart a letter writing campaign

post #8 of 30

I know this is going to sound biased and snarky and I'll probably get major flamage, but my DH is a public librarian in a large metropolitan system, and the idea of a letter writing campaign addressing the locale of a bathroom doesn't sit with me well, considering what librarians deal with every day (at least in our system) and the general purpose of a library.  I don't care if it is an old Carnegie building or a newly designed library.  Is it reasonable to have to walk a certain distance to get to a bathroom in the same building?  I don't know.  In most cases we're not talking about a Pentagon-sized building when we're talking about libraries.  I think it is reasonable to expect the library to have a clean bathroom available to the public. That is it, in my opinion. I don't think it is unreasonable to have a bathroom that is more accessible to staff, considering that they work there.  Patrons are important but the primary purpose of a library is to provide access to knowledge and books.  If the public needs to use a restroom, a restroom is available.  Complaining about the location of a bathroom (as opposed to say the unavailability of a bathroom) is not something I would spend much time thinking about (and I say this as a parent).  Librarians and libraries are not there to provide the public with maximum comfort.  They are there to provide books and public services.  I'm sorry for the rant but living with a librarian has provided me with this perspective, especially since my librarian works for low pay for something he feels passionate about and has to accept cuts to funding to books and valuable community services in order to keep the library open.  I grew up in a town where libraries weren't valued and the one crap space that we did have offered newspapers and romance novels at most.  I highly value the great library system in my town even if I have to walk to the basement with a key to access the bathroom.  Just trying to provide a little perspective here on a valuable service, FWIW.

post #9 of 30

Our library sounds similar...

 

The kids section is at the very back and the public washrooms are outside the library in the corridor that connects the library to the City Hall.  (Its all indoors).  I would guesstimate the walk is about a couple of hundred feet.  Yes, it is VERY annoying that if Dd#2 needs to use the bathroom, I have to haul Dd #1 out, along with all our bags and jackets.  Its worse if there are books we haven't checked out yet but don't have time to do it because Dd#2 *really* needs to go.

 

There's been several times where I've witnessed little kids (eg. under 3yo) who really couldn't make it and you see a puddle by the train table in the library.

 

This said though, I don't think its the library's job to make sure that the washrooms are immediately accessable (even though that would be nice), its not their mandate.  The physical building doesn't allow for that anyways.  I think rather that its *my* job as a parent to make sure that my kids have gone to the washroom BEFORE we enter the library.  In fact I'm pretty sure I sound like a horrible parent when strangers hear our conversations...

 

Me: Ok, we're going to the library, washrooms first!

Kids: We don't need to go. <whine>

Me: I don't care, once we're in the library, we're not coming out so we need to make sure we pee first before we go in!

 

We go through this conversation 3-4 times a week, hence the "I don't care" part.  The whining really gets old...

 

post #10 of 30

Wow, how inconvenient. Our library has a bathroom in the kids section and it has child sized toilets. The adult bathroom is sort of in the lobby of the library though.

post #11 of 30
 CatsCradle, I totally see where you're coming from. I'm a librarian wannabe (I have an MLIS, but I'm a SAHM for now), for what it's worth. Many libraries are struggling just to stay open and employ qualified people. Bathrooms are likely not at the top of their list of concerns.

My library is a Carnegie that just got remodeled, and they did add a family restroom in the children's area. My only kid is still in diapers, but I can see already what a luxury this is.
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Addie View Post

 CatsCradle, I totally see where you're coming from. I'm a librarian wannabe (I have an MLIS, but I'm a SAHM for now), for what it's worth. Many libraries are struggling just to stay open and employ qualified people. Bathrooms are likely not at the top of their list of concerns.

My library is a Carnegie that just got remodeled, and they did add a family restroom in the children's area. My only kid is still in diapers, but I can see already what a luxury this is.


Congrats on the MLIS (and mom part!).  One other thing to consider too is that if a library is not a newly designed building (as opposed to a renovation job), bathrooms are placed where existing plumbing is located.  To run new plumbing in an existing building to a different area is a huge expense.  I think that when architects are doing these types of redesigns, they are thinking more in terms of how they can maximize space for actual library services.  You're right, it is a huge luxury if a space can be accommodated either by existing plumbing or new plumbing.  We have a number of Carnegie buildings here in the city.  My DH once went through a re-model where the library was moved to a construction-type trailer and the bathrooms were porta-johns.  Not fun for either staff or public.  A private space, nonetheless.  :)

post #13 of 30

They should block view of the staff-only bathroom. For one thing, it'll help keep staff from getting waylaid when they have to go.

 

But I've only encountered 1 library with a bathroom right near the children's area and that was a library IN a children's museum and the whole library was well under 2000sqft

post #14 of 30

With my library, I just leave my stroller and stuff in the children's area and take dd out for water or toilet or whatever (mostly chasing her down because lately she thinks the library is a place to play tag--GRRRRR)

 

I've also just sat unchecked books down on the nearest bookcase on my way out the door chasing her down. We just come back in and finish checking out.

post #15 of 30
I understand not running pipes etc for a new bathroom just for the patrons convenience,it would be nice but I wouldn't expect it or complain if they didn't.

However.....if I understand the op correctly there *is* a bathroom and sometimes patrons can use it and sometimes they can't. I don't understand that at.all.
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

They should block view of the staff-only bathroom. For one thing, it'll help keep staff from getting waylaid when they have to go.

 

But I've only encountered 1 library with a bathroom right near the children's area and that was a library IN a children's museum and the whole library was well under 2000sqft


This is where I stand.

 

I work in a library (small and without a staff bathroom) - but I can see the allure of a staff bathroom.  If someone is there for 8 hours, ease of bathroom is really nice (and more productive for staff). Most patrons, on the other hand , spend about 10 minutes in the library!  10 minutes.  They can hold it until they go out.  I know little kids can't but it really is a short outing for many people.  It is also possible that the staff bathroom is one stall - not appropriate or up to code for a community building.  Lastly, and I hate to mention this, but not all patrons are neat in the washroom.  When it is multiple stalls it is not so bad as people can go to another stall - not the case for a single stall.  

 

I do think it is highly silly, though, to leave the door open to the staff washroom.  I do not make a habit of dangling things people cannot have in front of their noses.  They should keep the door closed and there should be no sign.

post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgehog Mtn View Post



However.....if I understand the op correctly there *is* a bathroom and sometimes patrons can use it and sometimes they can't. I don't understand that at.all.


It is lack of clarity on managements instruction to staff concerning the bathroom, or non compliance to staff on initiating the directive.  The Op can complain to management, but I bet that if she does the rule about it being a staff bathroom will be enforced, and then no-one will get to use it at all  (versus now...when you get the easy going librarian and can use it)

post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgehog Mtn View Post

I understand not running pipes etc for a new bathroom just for the patrons convenience,it would be nice but I wouldn't expect it or complain if they didn't.

However.....if I understand the op correctly there *is* a bathroom and sometimes patrons can use it and sometimes they can't. I don't understand that at.all.

 

OP said that the staff bathroom was open during special events.  My assumption is that there is a lot more crowd control and need for easy access to a restroom during these times and that it would make sense to have that particular restroom available.  There is also probably a lot better ability to monitor the bathroom during these events.  I also agree with a previous PP that it is nice not to have to use a "public" bathroom at your place of work.  Several people upthread mentioned that the issue of having to obtain a key for the public restroom.  Actually this is primarily for safety purposes.  During a regular work day, librarians and staff are busy on the floor and don't have a lot of time to monitor bathrooms.  Access by key allows the bathroom user a certain amount of safety.  Remember that these bathrooms are open to the public.  Anyone can access them essentially.  DH has had to call security to have certain people removed from the public restroom.  
 

post #19 of 30


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellp View Post

Our library sounds similar...

 

The kids section is at the very back and the public washrooms are outside the library in the corridor that connects the library to the City Hall.  (Its all indoors).  I would guesstimate the walk is about a couple of hundred feet.  Yes, it is VERY annoying that if Dd#2 needs to use the bathroom, I have to haul Dd #1 out, along with all our bags and jackets.  Its worse if there are books we haven't checked out yet but don't have time to do it because Dd#2 *really* needs to go.

 

There's been several times where I've witnessed little kids (eg. under 3yo) who really couldn't make it and you see a puddle by the train table in the library.

 

This said though, I don't think its the library's job to make sure that the washrooms are immediately accessable (even though that would be nice), its not their mandate.  The physical building doesn't allow for that anyways.  I think rather that its *my* job as a parent to make sure that my kids have gone to the washroom BEFORE we enter the library.  In fact I'm pretty sure I sound like a horrible parent when strangers hear our conversations...

 

Me: Ok, we're going to the library, washrooms first!

Kids: We don't need to go. <whine>

Me: I don't care, once we're in the library, we're not coming out so we need to make sure we pee first before we go in!

 

We go through this conversation 3-4 times a week, hence the "I don't care" part.  The whining really gets old...

 


If they couldn't make it, then you would more likely see a puddle somewhere away from the train table heading in the direction of the bathroom (wherever it is).  Right by the train table means they stayed too long playing, not that the bathroom is too far.

post #20 of 30

OP, can you have your 2yo (and maybe the other kids too) use the bathroom right when you enter and right when you leave? That might cut down on the number of trips needed during your visit, except for emergencies of course. 

 

I agree with those who said that while a closer bathroom would be nice, it's not something I would raise a fuss about. 

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