Monday, August 18, 2008

Silence in the Library

I have a question. It's been nagging at me for some time now.

When did the Library STOP being a quiet place?

And when did patrons being asked to "please quiet down" get the right to complain about the staff enforcing the rules and having that compliant taken seriously by "the powers that be" so that the staff person is written up and not the noisy patron???

When did we (as a profession) decide "People can be noisy in the library now and screaming babies are to be tolerated"?

At an Unconference I recently unattended, one director said that when she gets complaints about the noise, instead of quieting the 'offending persons' (my words, not hers) she suggest that the person COMPLAINING move to a different area of the library. Pardon me, but I think that is rude.

Call me old-fashioned, but I still think that the Library:

[is] a place for reading, study, gathering information, cultural and educational enrichment, and/or programmed activities. People using the Library have the right to expect that the Staff will maintain decorum by requiring courteous and reasonable behavior from everyone.

(From our posted "Code of Conduct")

Am I wrong? Am I out of step? Or is everyone else?

"The Director"


bettylouspence said...

IMO, I believe it started when libraries became threatened by bookstores.

bettylouspence said...

An I only now - 24 hours later - realized that the title is a Dr Who reference! D'OH!!!!

DirectorWho said...

Well, I kind of thought it appropriate.

I originally thought of naming all my posts after episode titles, but then thought 'nah'.


"The Director"

bettylouspence said...

Maybe not ALL the posts, but if you do it every once in a while it'll keep me on my toes. :)

BTW - I'm watching season 1 on DVD right now (I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I only picked it up in Season 4). I noticed that at the end of each episode there are previews for the next show. I suspect that the actual BBC airings may have those promos, too. I'll let you know if I catch one on CBC.

Kewl Librarian 2 said...

Obviously, I'm behind in my blog reading. Moving will do that. However, many academic libraries are starting to get complaints about noise. It's a hard balance. You now need space for group activities, as that's big in academia, but you also need the quiet spaces for study. Many multi-level libraries are designating different floors with different noise levels. I'm guessing your library isn't multi-floors, but perhaps areas could be designated quiet. Much as some might disagree, it's helpful to meet all patron needs - those needing to congregate, so to speak, and those needing the quiet.

DirectorWho said...

I went back to visit the academic library at which I used to work recently.

The main floor, which is Reference and Computer central(!) is a 'noisy area' for socializing, etc.

The upper floors (2-5)are requested to be 'quiet areas' for more serious studying.

Not a bad compromise, IMO.

"The Director"

DirectorWho said...


No, my current library is NOT a multi-level library, although we do have a separate Computer Lab with ten public access computers. I'm not too worrried about that area, as mostly teens use the lab, but the main library is only about 8,000 sqft, and close quarters no matter where you happen to be.

Our other area is two very small rooms with children's "Easy" books, each not much bigger then 10X10, I'd guess. Again, not much of a problem unless there is a crying baby ignored by the parent.

So in the main area we do have our fair share of 'older' users and serious students who do request a quiet envrionment.

Which is where the problem lies. Trying to strike a balance between the welcoming, social aspect and the (IMO) REAL purpose of the library (see the original post).

"The Director"