Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Who Took the Quiet Out of Libraries?
The other day, I brought my laptop to the library and began working on a middle-grade manuscript I'm writing. The library was so noisy, I could barely concentrate. I looked around and saw a few people talking to each other, but the real noise was coming from the librarians! I went up to their desk and kindly asked them to please keep it down. They said they would but then kept yapping away. Again, I went up to them and asked them to please be quiet. I was told by a librarian in his 20s that if I wanted quiet, I should go into The Quiet Room. He pointed to a small room through whose glass I could see several people sitting around a table. It looked claustrophobic. I much preferred the cubicle-desk that I'd been lucky enough to get. I went back to work and did get a bit of quiet while the librarians had gone their separate ways among the shelves. But then the guy librarian came back and started a LOUD conversation with a woman who had come to check out a book. I marched up to him and said, "Look--this is a library. It's supposed to be quiet, and you're supposed to be quiet." He smiled at me--as if he'd been anticipating this encounter--and said, "Actually, you're wrong. Libraries used to be quiet. Today's libraries are community centers for people who have nowhere else to go." I didn't believe him, but after mailing my complaint to the library's board of directors, I got a letter saying that yes, it is true: "Libraries are the new community centers, but they have a lovely Quiet Room...." I thought it might just be that library, but when I googled it, I saw that the library was right, I was wrong. When did this happen? I've been taking my 10-year-old son to the library since he was a toddler. Why didn't I know about it? I'm glad people who didn't have a place to chat now have one, but I have to say, I miss that old "Be quiet in the library" rule. Do you?
Posted by wendy wax at 4:57 AM