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Quiet, please? September 19, 2006

Posted by L Wolfe in Library Stuff.

It can be a substantial part of our daily tasks: balancing the noise level in the library. At particular branches that are heavily attended by young patrons as an after school gathering place, it is a constant concern. Are the kids disturbing other patrons? Can other patrons get their work completed? And then watching the kids goofing around, playing games, social networking, etc.; how fair is it to be forever making them be quiet? Every day is a challenge! Aggravated patrons may not approach a staff member, but may take a vigilante approach. I have witnessed several occasions in which a patron lectured another about the noise level–and they were both adults. Every patron has a different idea of what is acceptable in the library, or what is disturbing to him or her. Today a shelver found this note:

quiet room note
Also this rant* from students at
Muppets using Bebo in the Library
*warning: angry, european university student chat language

I think the best solutions include:

  • Specific quiet or study areas
  • Designated kids/teens areas (WITH computers)
  • Meeting rooms (obviously)
  • Cell phone friendly spots

Staff should be in tune to patrons who may be not be comfortable complaining, and handle complaints that are made discreetly. Offering the best possible customer service and a friendly environment to the greatest number of patrons should be our goal. That’s not news to anyone. What is may be how much time and energy this takes. No wonder the Nancy Pearl librarian action figure offers push button shushing!



1. DrumPhil - September 20, 2006

I have my Nancy Pearl action figure, do you? The deluxe version even comes with a little book cart, books, and a computer.

I like libraries that have quiet and not-so-quiet areas clearly marked. To me, the ideal is to have an enclosed cyber-cafe, where patrons can click, slurp, and socialize all they want, without fear of shushing. (We draw the line at disorderly behavior, however.) But meeting rooms for group study are also very important, because students often meet to study with friends.

2. heyheypaula - September 20, 2006

The Richmond Heights library is designed kind of neat. They have a children’s “room” instead of just an area, and although you can hear what’s going on when there is a screamer, for the most part it’s nicer. I’m not sure if they have any other noise-muffling designs, but it doesn’t seem like sound carries quite as far there. Plus, there is area outside the library but inside the building you can go if you want to make noise. I think meeting rooms are a great idea too. Wouldn’t it be great to have both quiet rooms and group rooms?

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