Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Whatever Happened to the Quiet Library?
I know just how Uncle Sam feels...he probably visited his local library.
If you were born in the 70s or earlier, I'm certain that you learned at an early age to be quiet and respectful in a library. I sure know that it was for me--each year in elementary school, our school librarian would pay us a visit and remind us of the rules: low voices and whispering or no talking at all; no horseplay and running through the aisles; and books were to be treated with respect (you didn't own them, after all.) Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, and The Electric Company all made the word QUIET synonymous with the building that contained the books we borrowed. The reason why is simple: people go to a library to study, concentrate, or otherwise read books in peace.
When I was in high school, there was a crotchety old librarian at the local town library that my friends and I nicknamed the Nazi Librarian, because she did not tolerate even whispering of any sort, particularly from giggly teenage girls. She also wore queer plastic sleeves to cover her arms--the reason why my friends and I never learned.
With all that in mind, I'm wondering if anyone out there--particularly a parent--could explain to me what happened to all that. Some of them treat a library like it's a daycare center. You see, I've experienced and have heard many complaints from other people about how children behave in libraries today, and it isn't pretty. I've seen it first hand with kids--not in the children's library, mind you - but the regular adult sections--screeching, screaming, throwing temper tantrums, and running rampant around bookcases and tables where people are trying to read. There's no corrections or reminders whatsoever, and some parents actually think their child's behavior is highly amusing or cute when they do this. We have a family friend who's a librarian in the children's section who has been equally appalled by what passes for acceptable behavior in a library today. And I really don't get why a library's staff can't remind people that a library is a place of respectful quiet. Is someone afraid of a lawsuit?
I don't know if this is tolerated in other countries, but it's definitely become a problem in the U.S. It's downright rude and disrespectful. If your kids can't behave properly in a quiet public place then for the love of God and respect to fellow library patrons, don't bring them. Let's put the quiet back in library.
In case anyone forgot, our friend Grover here demonstrates how to talk in a library:
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