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"Quiet! This Is A Library!"

Updated on May 15, 2012

I've noticed in recent years that the library is not as quiet as it used to be. Maybe in some places they still are, but the public library I'm writing from now is louder than I remember it being when I was a kid. Sure, the children's room is still going to be noisy with kids playing (and usually crying when they are either being dragged into or out of the facility). However, not even the adults are extending the courtesy of indoor voices and relative silence within its walls.

When I was a kid going to the library, we were told over and over how quiet we had to be so as not to disturb other people. That's probably why my normal speaking voice is as soft as it is now - the excitablility was stamped out of me a long time ago but tends to resurface from time to time. Today's kids may be told to behave and use their indoor voices, but kids will be kids and they will always be a bit louder than everyone else. Maybe the expectation of whispering has gone out of style, though, since most people in the library just speak at a normal volume anyway without making the effort of being quieter. Usually it isn't a big deal and they don't have to whisper if no one in the immediate vicinity is studying or doing something that requires quiet concentration. Even some of the librarians have an indoor voice that I can hear from all the way across the room, and they're just doing their job answering calls at the front desk. However, I do find it a little annoying that the effort to be a little quieter seems to have been abandoned entirely.

Cell phone usage is a big no-no beyond the library's lobby. Unfortunately, this rule tends to be broken a lot, and not just by teenagers. Adults do it too all the time, but like in schools, they don't get in trouble for it. In a school, if a teacher's phone goes off, he or she immediately turns it off and continues on like nothing happened; students are not extended the same courtesy of looking the other way. The same applies to the library - only the teenage patrons get reprimanded and not the adults. Just because they are adults does not mean that their phone calls are any more important than the teenagers' calls, nor the teenagers' calls any less important. Even adults get social calls, and they stay on them even though they're in the library and acknowledge it. This leads me to believe it's not about age but maturity, but no one else seems to notice or give a darn.

There are some hypocrites out there too. They notice when someone is being loud, but they only complain when it's a kid or a teen making the noise. That response is usually for the offending young person to "go read a Bible," among other things like "What's wrong with kids today?" Then the old guy's friend walks in and he gets up and greets him like they're outside on the street, not bothering to keep their voices down at all. There's nothing I can do about it either way - I just ignore everybody because it's not like what I'm doing is that important, but I have to wonder why this has begun to be something of a trend in libraries nowadays.


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      Robert Kernodle 3 years ago

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      Anne 5 years ago from Spain

      Funny you should say that. I was a security guard in a university library and one of my main tasks was to keep the noise down. We had quiet areas, and silent areas as well as group or individual study rooms.We actually fined people for using mobile phones unless in a designated area.We made sure they had plenty of warning about this on entering the library. Huge big notices advising that they turn them off before passing this point and warning that they would be fined if they failed to adhere to the rules. The noise levels I encountered at times in silent study areas was unbelievable. And without exception anyone making a noise in those areas would be told to move to a quiet area if they had anything to discuss with a study friend. Or to book a study room. Library´s should be quiet places. When I was a little girl and went to the library with my Dad I was even scared if my shoe squeeked as the librarian would glare at even that.I bet if you ask other people they wouldn´t be happy with the noise levels either, but like you are choosing just to ignore the problem. May be you should get a petition going and do something about it.