Libraries are NOT free playgroups!

(111 Posts)
autumn99 Wed 14-Nov-12 15:14:04

When are mums going to stop using libraries as free playgroups stroke chat sessions at the expense of those hwo wnat to use libraries for their proper purpose, No one objects to children being introduced to books - but hand in hand should go the condition that libraries are QUIET places where people go to read and relax. So many mums I see just aren't laying down the behaviour rules to their children, so are not introducing a new generation to the joys of reading but just nurturing a generation that doesn't give a hoot about the purpose of libraries and the respect for quiet that should prevail.

IronyFreeAnnie Thu 15-Nov-12 10:41:26

In my library it's not the kids who make the noise, but our older customers.

Yes we do have kids playing and talking and we have all sorts of fun sessions on for them when things can get a bit lively but we also have alarge number of retired regulars who come in with those fecking coffee cups, grab all the papers, take over the seating and sit their all day very loudly discussing every little thing in the papers.

These are the same people who have no qualms about shouting at staff when asked to keep the noise down, who will moan at the top of their voice about having to queue and are generally anti social and rude.

Give me a noisy little toddler anyday smile.

Wallison Thu 15-Nov-12 10:42:57

A drinks machine is one thing, but it's sheer barbarism to get rid of books in order to put a cafe in place. As though the three cafes directly opposite the library weren't enough to choose from.

Franca, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks like this. I have always told my son to behave himself in the library and it hasn't put him off reading one jot. Just as teaching him how to behave in restaurants hasn't put him off eating!

BeerTricksPott3r Thu 15-Nov-12 10:53:13

They will have been told to raise revenue, Wallinson. Either by hiring out the space to someone who runs the cafe or using it as a revenue stream themselves.

We can either chuck out/ban noisy customers of all ages or we can adapt to try and please all customers.
For instance, if a parent comes in to access Welfare Rights support and their toddler is throwing books around, banging the computer keyboards and tipping their drink into the kinderboxes do I a)tut loudly and tell the parent they must control their child or they're not welcome or b)give the child a colouring sheet, put the drink to one side 'for later' or show them the books?

I know which I'll go for every time.

It's not some newfangled idea either. 20 years ago when I was just starting out I worked in a fairly rundown area, lots of poverty and a transient population. A homeless man used to come in and out of some misguided sense of having to be 'allowed' in the library he used to take piles of books from one place to another and shelve them. A day of this really messed up our stock. We could have banned him under Byelaws, but my manager spoke to him about not needing to do anything - he could just sit and read the papers/have a quiet and discreet kip. He also contacted the local hostel and a member of their staff came down and had a word with the man, got him a bed and somewhere to wash.

Wallison Thu 15-Nov-12 11:03:57

Ok I can see that that's reasonable but at least what you would do with the noisy toddler stops her from being noisy. What a lot of people on here seem to be saying is that libraries, by pandering to parents who let their children run riot, are meeting a need and it is therefore a good thing. What about the needs of other library users- children, teenagers and adults - who like them to be quiet (not stern, not forbidding) places where they can look through books in peace?

BeerTricksPott3r Thu 15-Nov-12 11:08:49

You can't have that in every library. The larger ones, yes, there may be space for quiet or study areas. In a smaller branch that isn't going to happen.

Wallison Thu 15-Nov-12 11:13:43

Why not? What is wrong with just asking people to be quiet? Shop-keepers expect it, museums expect it, restaurants expect it, so why not libraries? Even if people are not sitting at a desk studying, even if they are browsing, it is still nice to be able to concentrate on what you are doing, read little bits of books etc without some tiresome Jocasta running around under your feet and smearing fucking chocolate all over the place while her mother smiles indulgently about her 'high spirits'.

BeerTricksPott3r Thu 15-Nov-12 11:21:50

Jocasta would be told to stop it, Mum there or not. If her Mum got the hump then that's her problem.

It's how quiet some people want their library that is difficult to manage. One customer might not have a computer at home and needs to do some research or work. It is unreasonable of them to expect an atmosphere in a public library that is tailored to their exact need, as other customers might be doing homework they want to chat about, or a parent might have brought thier children in for a break in a busy day where they can press the Old MacDonald pictures and sound book button a hundred fucking times.

A metaphor for differing expectations of a library atmosphere is illustrated by an author visit I attended. An adult customer stepping over a child and shoving them aside with their foot to get to the Patricia Cornwells. then complaining that the author was 'far too loud' for a library. A real life author, enthusing 50 children, in a place full of books! The very idea! hmm

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Thu 15-Nov-12 11:28:43

What about the needs of other library users- children, teenagers and adults - who like them to be quiet (not stern, not forbidding) places where they can look through books in peace?

Well, you see, if a person is being quiet then it means they're morbid and lifeless, apparently. Still confused about that...

BeerTricksPott3r Thu 15-Nov-12 11:33:51

And our Museums aren't silent places any more either. Crikey, I used to be put off going in there in case i coughed too loudly. Full of life and laughter and discovery now, as a publically-funded place should be.

WineGoggles Thu 15-Nov-12 11:34:57

YANBU. Although I agree that libraries need to change to accommodate the changing tastes of their clientele, and that we should encourage children to enjoy them, I also think that they should be reasonably relaxing places to visit. I don't want to hear shrieking kids or have them racing past me when I'm reading or online, and I think children need to understand that there's a time and a place for everything; a park, garden or playground is for energetic noisy play, but libraries are for more quiet fun. I'm not saying they should be silent by any means, just that there should be no running around or shrieking.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Thu 15-Nov-12 11:37:49

No, museums I don't think have ever needed to be silent, or even necessarily that quiet. I can't say the level of noise makes any difference to my museum experience (usual disclaimers about actual screaming/running etc). Reading does require a bit more peace though.

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