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sarahjane90's avatar

Do you think libraries should be silent?

Asked by sarahjane90 (1805points) February 24th, 2011

Right now I am sitting in the library. I have been wandering around most of the day attempting to find a quiet location. I tried the first ‘silent area’ and there were people talking on phones, talking to eachother.. then I went to the other silent area. Same problem. Now I am in the silent computer area. Quieter yet, but still a certain few ‘hanging out’. There are a lot of people doing work here, and seem to be getting through the commotion. Maybe I am crazy, but I would really like some peace and quiet. Of all places, I thought a library could offer this!

I always was of the impression that libraries were silent places, where you can relax and do work and research. After being here, I haven’t gotten much work done, I have a headache and I can’t wait to leave!

Do you think libraries should be ‘silent’ as they are traditionally portrayed, or should they be a place for people to ‘meet up’?

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28 Answers

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Our library at my college had a huge main “quiet” floor, but then many meeting rooms that groups could gather in to study etc. If your library has a silent area that isn’t silent, you need to let the librarians know because it’s very likely that other people are being bothered by that too.

marinelife's avatar

Why haven’t you spoken to a librarian?

john65pennington's avatar

Libraries have been silent areas for years. Its for people who need to read, think and study. Cellphone useage should be banned in libraries. They are distracting, but you know this.

Make a suggestion to the Head Librarian that cellphones should be banned in the library.

If all else fails, do like I do and sit in your car to read, think and study.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

It may be that phone useage IS actually banned, but the librarians were either unaware or not enforcing it. It could be just a student worker etc. who was responsible that day, so you really need to talk to the librarian.

Blackberry's avatar

Let me guess…teens? What a surprise, a teenager being useless… Yes, I think libraries should stay silent, and teens need a different place to hang out. I sympathize with you.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Yes, I adamantly believe that libraries should be silent.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Silent sections: yes. Silent building: no.

Libraries are used for a lot more than reading books and magazines now, and enforcing silence would really interfere with some of the other uses.

Supacase's avatar

Interesting. I have noticed that the library is not nearly the quiet place it once was. It doesn’t seem to receive the respect it used to and I can’t figure out why. My daughter picks up on the fact that others are being loud and, because of that, I have a hard time explaining to her that we need to whisper. What I am saying and what is happening are totally different.

stardust's avatar

There should be silent sections, but any building where you’ve got such a large volume of traffic isn’t going to be silent. I do understand the frustration though. It’s difficult trying to find somewhere quiet to work, especially on campus.
We’ve got some reading rooms scattered about the place and I can never understand how anyone gets any work done in them – between rustling of papers, zipping of pencil cases, etc. It’s headwrecking.

partyparty's avatar

Yes there certainly should be silent sections, where you are able to concentrate on your reading, referencing etc. Cell phones should most certainly be banned.
Why not speak to the Chief librarian, they may be able to help

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I think so.
When I go to the library in my town,the librarian greets me in a big booming voice! XDShe must not be familiar with the rules.;)

JLeslie's avatar

Overall yes, but I like the idea of areas where people can talk if necessary. Certainly quiet areas and non-quiet areas should be segregated.

Prosb's avatar

I think libraries as a whole need to be quiet, but not necessarily silent. I’m fine with someone being there with a friend talking (QUIETLY), or when you get a case of the chuckles from a particularly funny book. Phones are fine for emergencies, but anything other than that in a library is absurd. I have on occasion had to resist smashing someone’s phone to pieces on my face to get a point across with this. (Extreme? I don’t think so. :P)

I don’t go to my local library as often as I’d like, but when I do go, I deeply enjoy how relatively silent it is there. (Although mine might be quiet because people in my area probably read more words in a week from texts, than from print in a month)

SuperMouse's avatar

Our library has a silent floor, we also have private study rooms that offer a quieter space. I don’t think it is realistic to have an entire library be a silent space. There need to be places where groups can collaborate and work together. It is also kind of remarkable how much noise there can be in a computer lab with keyboard smashing, printing, etc. If you are being bothered by too much noise, talk to someone at the circulation desk, they will put the kibosh on it right away!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think there should be silent areas in the library and that silence must be enforced there.

VS's avatar

I think as a general rule libraries should be as quiet as possible. Some conversation is necessary, but out of respect for others, it should be kept to a minimum. I don’t know where you live, but cellphone usage in my public library is not tolerated. The person is asked to leave until they complete their call. I don’t have any real gripe anymore with my library. There used to be tons of homeless people in there, some would be washing their hair in the restroom sink. That was put to a stop. Then they would stand just outside the main door and smoke, so that you have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get IN the library. I now use the back door. If things are not to your liking, though, I strongly suggest you ‘speak up’ and lodge a complaint about the excessive noise.

ucme's avatar

To me it’s like taking your kids to a party & asking them to have fun. Not a question of should, more like second nature, instinctively so.

downtide's avatar

Yes they absolutely should be silent.

janbb's avatar

I work in a community college library where the reference desk is in the Information Commons – a huge room with 200 computers in it. It is the main computer lab on campus and it is unrealistic to expect total silence while students are working together and there is much to-ing and fro-ing. The staff, too, have to talk to students or amongst themselves at times. There is generally a lowish buzz of noise in the room. At times we do get complaints about rowdies and if it is egregious, we will ask the offenders to be quieter. We do provide rooms for quiet study and work and in those rooms, we will be stricter towards offenders. But I agree with those who say the nature of libraries is changing and the “code of silence” is not as enforced in general as it was formerly. On the positive side, librarians are much less likely to wear buns and glasses and walk around saying “Shush” all time nowadays.

Kardamom's avatar

Absolutely. The library is one of the last places where people are made to adhere to certain polite rules. If we lose this one, then we’re doomed! People need to shut up and turn off their beeping electronics!

Jeruba's avatar

Whisper-quiet, yes. And built so that even whispers are absorbed into the stillness.

flutherother's avatar

Libraries are for books and reading and thought. Noise is a distraction.

Bellatrix's avatar

Libraries are changing and they are no longer silent zones. We have huge collaboration zones where students can work together on projects. However, I think there should also be quiet zones. We need both types of area. My university library lacks enough ‘quiet space’ but I went to the State Library and they have too few collaboration zones. So if you are working with someone on research, there isn’t a general space. You have to go to a special room and they are all taken. Needs to be a balance.

However, if you are in a quiet zone and people are speaking. Talk to the librarian. They will tell people to be quiet.

perspicacious's avatar

Just mention it to the librarian. In our neighborhood library and the law library that I use you find it very quiet. You would never hear someone talking on the phone. The exception is the childrens section; it is in a room all by itself.

gm_pansa1's avatar

Utterly silent, no.

Seelix's avatar

I agree with others who’ve said that there should be a silent section. This is especially true for university libraries – many students go there to get their work done because there isn’t a quiet place for them to work at home.

That being said, there should be meeting spaces as well. At the small library I usually go to on campus, there’s a meeting space with a coffee kiosk where people can meet up, as well as a few tables on the first floor. The second and third floors are silent. This works out great, I think.

12Oaks's avatar

The main area, yes. Rooms where activities take place, like Family Night, Movie Night, or Little Listeners, of course not.

sarahjane90's avatar

The law library is alright – but is ancient and has a horrendously squeaky floor, as well as huge ancient straight backed, unpadded wooden chairs. It is really only a place to go to grab books and leave. I have found that the library is quiet from about 8 am- 11 am and then 6 pm onwards. I will just need to work my scheduel around this I suppose… although sometimes I need to stay between gaps in class so can’t avoid peak times.

I’m not sure mentioning it would work. It has been like this since I can remember. I also can’t see them employing more library monitors to enforce it, or overhauling the ancient, squeaky floor. I will have to try reading with ear plugs!

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