Quiet, Please.

There was a Whistler in the library this morning. Yes, a Whistler. In. the. Library. Where people are trying to read.

At first I thought I was hearing things, for surely everyone knows that the library is a place where there is QUIET. PLEASE. But "Peep!" came from over by the County and Westerns. And a few seconds later, "Peep peep!" came from the Large Print section. Yup, it was a Whistler alright. Is nowhere sacred?

Apparently not. Because here’s the thing: try as I might, I couldn’t really blame The Whistler for thinking that it was absolutely fine to be polluting the stillness of the library with his attention-seeking PEEPS. No, he was just taking his cue from everyone else in the library, most notably the librarians themselves, who were listening to the radio from their station. Their station IN THE LIBRARY, that is. The library where it used to be quiet, but where everyone’s now just blaring out music and freaking PEEPING all day long.

Encouraged by the inane chatter of breakfast time DJs and "chart-toppers" from the 80s, the other patrons were doing their utmost to add to the general din. Over by the computing section came the tinny roar of an MP3 player being basted at "loud enough so everyone in the library can hear it, even above the sound of the radio and The Whistler" level. (Aside: why do people who do this always listen to crappy dance music?) In the "research" area, two women were sitting chatting away IN LOUD VOICES. Well, they kinda had to be loud to be heard above the rest of the racket, didn’t they? Their children, meanwhile, played a loud game of chase around one of the book carousels, shrieking at the top of their little lungs as they did so.

PEEP! said the Whistler!
SHRIEK! said the children!
TINNY ROAR OF TRANCE MUSIC! said the MP3 player.
"We don’t give a crap because we’re too busy listening to the radio" said the librarians!

"IS NOWHERE SACRED?" said the crazy redhead who, seriously, just went in there to escape the sounds of plumbing this morning, and, OK, because she had that fine to pay. I mean, seriously, I’m well aware of the fact that most people like to behave as if they are the ONLY people in the entire world, and that the world revolves entirely around them, but is it too much to ask that they could just shut the hell up for a few minutes while they’re in the damn library?

Is it?

  • Steph


    I feel your pain, Amber. I'm ridiculously sensitive to noise, so practically everywhere is too loud for me, but it drives me up the wall when people are so utterly disrespectful of others in so-called 'quiet areas' (look at me getting all hufty and middle-aged!) The noise levels are so bad at my university library, I have occasionally taken to holing myself up in the lavvy to read. Oh how I wish I were joking…

    February 4, 2008
  • You should have started yelling. That would have been funny!

    February 4, 2008
  • Amy


    This just shows what a geek I am. After reading your first paragraph, I thought "but why would it be inappropriate for a painting to be in a library?" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_McNeill_Whistl
    Yeah. I completely understand, though.

    February 4, 2008
  • Being a librarian myself, I have to say…AMEN! Though libraries will of course be somewhat louder because of the computers and printers, there is no excuse for other disruptive behavior. Although I admit that I hate it when patrons ask me questions at subsonic volumes that I would need some sort of special sound system to hear. That's no good.

    February 4, 2008
  • I canNOT stand it when people are loud in the library. The absolute worst is when they’ll answer their cell phones and talk in a regular voice. A. Regular. Non-library. Voice. Grrrrr.

    February 5, 2008
  • I canNOT stand it when people are loud in the library. The absolute worst is when they'll answer their cell phones and talk in a regular voice. A. Regular. Non-library. Voice. Grrrrr.

    February 5, 2008
  • Yes! There is a LIBRARY VOICE that people really should use AT ALL TIMES in the library. OK, maybe not to the extremes that Hayley has experienced – I mean, we don't expect the place to be quieter than the crypt, with everyone frightened to breathe for fear of making a noise – but radios and non-library voices are just not on.

    February 5, 2008