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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.

DilysPrice Wed 14-Nov-12 15:58:29

YABU and YANBU. Lots of libraries are horribly underused, and encouraging a love of books in toddlers is vitally important work.

OTOH students do need somewhere reasonably quiet to work - our local libraries are always full of conscientious teens doing their homework.

You need a balance between the couple of hours a week when it's a scheduled toddler free-for-all and the rest of the time when children can chatter but not scream or run around. I've always imposed a "shh, libraries are for reading" rule on my DCs, especially if there's no wall between the children's area and the study desks, and I've never been in a library (outside of specific toddler playtimes) that are too noisy to read.

An iPod with your own classical music and some heavy duty headphones may be the answer here.

RuleBritannia Wed 14-Nov-12 16:03:42

I like quiet in a library but our local library has a section (open plan) where toddlers singing groups with parents are (The Bus has Wheels sort of thing). My DH and I were trying to do a bit of unimportant work on the computers which were at the side of where the toddlers were and we would have been unable to do 'proper' work.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Why do you think that older books are only for old men? Don't generalise because you haven't seen my bookshelves at home eg Walt Disney biography, Ditto Mary Pickford and Edith Cavell and don't ask who they are. I have Dumas, Orczy, Galsworthy, Cronin, others and, yes, there's an inch of dust on them but no no one will ever part me from them only my death.

I think libraries should be a place where kids like to go, get an interest in books and are made to feel welcome.

This children should be seen and not heard is outdated as is the belief that no one can speak in a library.

These children are our future generations, if they dont go to the library then then will all gradually close.....would you prefer that OP?

Personally I want my son to love books!

megandraper Wed 14-Nov-12 16:07:04

Our library has a separate children's floor in the dungeon basement. It actively encourages talking and playing, and has ride-on toys for toddlers. The children love it, it's always busy, and it doesn't disturb anyone else. The study areas are on the top floor.

It is a really big (and lovely) library though, and I appreciate not everywhere has the space for that.

DilysPrice Wed 14-Nov-12 16:09:52

My local, open plan, library had signs up saying "10-12 Tuesdays and Thursdays are toddler rhyme time - if you want to work then avoid these times or go to the library across town". Outside of those times they'd have been prepared to shh rowdy toddlers, which I think is a good compromise.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Wed 14-Nov-12 16:15:55

Libraries should be fun and the first 5 years are when you sow the seeds for children's love of books therefore they should be allowed to talk and play normally (although not run riot of course). However, some library users do need peace and quiet to study so maybe a quiet study area in most libraries would be a useful addition. Also maybe the librarians could have a stock of ear plugs for sale for a small fee in case someone is not getting the peace they need.

autumn99 Wed 14-Nov-12 16:20:26

This is nothing to do with being a grumpy old fart, I love children - and my grandchildren too! - but you know, there's nothing wrong with teaching children that there are times when the world doesn't revolve around them and there are rules to follow. I'm sitting in a library as I write - and some mums are actually playing Hide & Seek with their toddlers. Do me a favour! The idea that it encourages children to love books is completely specious!!! My kids had thousands of books and went to the library regularly - but now they regard books as completely meaningless and as for the people who read books - saddoes to be pitied! So anyone who thinks taking kids to libraries will teach them to love books is in for a nasty shock!

greenbananas Wed 14-Nov-12 16:21:23

Last time I told DS to keep his noise down in the children's library, a member of staff said "oh he's okay, we don't mind" smile Libraries are not hushed and forbidding places like they used to be. There is a circle of comfy seating for parents and children to use, and toys for the little ones.

Our local library even runs music sessions for toddlers - not very quiet at all! It's all very family friendly, and these days I do treat it as a free playgroup (e.g. if DS is good in town while I get the shopping done, we go to relax in the library for a bit). There are some computers and 'homework spaces' for adults and older children to use, but those are on a separate floor, so we are not disturbing anybody by reading aloud and laughing and playing with the toys.

manchestermummy Wed 14-Nov-12 16:21:31

OMG hiviolet same here.


valiumredhead Wed 14-Nov-12 16:22:21

I think your ideas of libraries are very outdated, the more kids that go into libraries the better imo!

HecatePropylaea Wed 14-Nov-12 16:24:19

tbh, Libraries need to evolve if they want to survive.

You can buy a book in a charity shop for 50p. You can download books onto your kindle or whatever.

The days of your fortnightly trip to a silent library to swap your books are gone (for most people)

Libraries are closing all over the place because they're not getting enough people through the doors.

They need to do more things in order to remain relevant. Many of them are. Coffee shops. Mum and toddler groups. Reading groups. Fun activities. Internet access. Photocopiers. Sessions of this, that and the other. etc etc.

There should ideally be a quiet room for people to research/read, yes. But the old libraries are on their way out.

butterfingerz Wed 14-Nov-12 16:25:36

I don't think libraries need to be that quiet tbh, its a public space. I don't think librarians would expect the childrens area to be that quiet, as kids generally aren't. Generally the study areas are in a separate area/room to the rest of the library so people can study in peace, I wouldn't expect noisy children/adults to be in this area.

That is my understanding of libraries, I don't see the problem.

Particularly in our library, in the childrens section, we have childrens toys, sofas, sensory play... surely thats not all there to be 'enjoyed' in silence?

Mrsjay Wed 14-Nov-12 16:26:01

I have never played hide and seek thats a new one on me, you are being very grumpy about it they are not letting their toddlers run riot they are playing with them and i do agree with you the world does not revolve round children but they just seem to be playing with their children and not letting them run wild while they chat, Libraries have changed if you are really disgruntled complain to the librarian they may ask them to sit down and shush, and i wasn't being agiest I was being sarcastic ,

pictish Wed 14-Nov-12 16:29:08

Mmm...just because YOUR kids are twits about books and reading, doesn't mean everyone's are. I'm not in for a shock at all. What a disgruntled attitude you have!!

Iggly Wed 14-Nov-12 16:30:11


I go there with my two. One is only 11 months so destroys the place. The other is 3 and we read a bit but mainly pick books then take them home to read. The kids section is not a quiet zone.

Francagoestohollywood Wed 14-Nov-12 16:40:56

I think that it is lovely that libraries are evolving into a public space enjoyed by different generations.
I loved our local library when we lived in the UK and often went there with the dc, who loved going there as well.

However, I think that it is up to the parents to teach their children the appropriate behaviour for attending places like librairies or museums.

ihavenofuckingclue Wed 14-Nov-12 16:42:31

and there are rules to follow

This is where yabu, op.

Because the rules are changing. There are not enough people sitting quietly reading and researching. So they are encouraging a new market. That is families.

The library you want doesn't really exist anymore. this is what libraries are now.

WilsonFrickett Wed 14-Nov-12 16:45:23

Hide and seek is a bit much, I think there's a balance to be struck between the needs of all the different users. But essentially libraries serve the very young and very old - certainly the ones here aren't used that much by any one over 20 and under 50 (unless they are bringing children with them). And that means a certain amount of noise from little ones.

McChristmasPants2012 Wed 14-Nov-12 16:55:00

this thread has inspired me to take the my DC to the library, that one place i never thought of going.

I didn't know library have changed so much, i hated going as a child as it was all ssshhhhhh.

Pozzled Wed 14-Nov-12 16:55:51

Last time I took my two under 5s to the library, a staff member told me off- because I was trying to get the kids to be quiet. I was told that they want children to enjoy visiting, so talking is fine. Both my local libraries certainly do a rather boisterous rhyme time session.

So I agree that libraries are changing, and shouldn't be all hushed voices and stern looks.

On the other hand, I do agree with the OP that running and screaming is not appropriate. There needs to be a happy medium, especially if the library is open plan.

Fakebook Wed 14-Nov-12 16:58:10

Oh shut up! Our children's libraries are for babies and children. There's nothing wrong with parents chatting in a children's library.

CajaDeLaMemoria Wed 14-Nov-12 17:00:29

Go to your nearest university library?

Most of those have four floors, one of which is for silent study, and the other three are for talking/group work/not working in silence.

Libraries want to be more involved in the community. Let's face it, if more people went there to read, they wouldn't need too. But most people don't, and so they've adapted to be a place where children can learn and play, and adults can socialise, all surrounded by books and literacy. Most public libraries are one floor, or open plan, so it can be hard to balance the people who want silence with the people who don't. There is no obvious way around that, so maybe university libraries are the answer?

mamij Wed 14-Nov-12 17:04:09

Hmmm. Not quite sure I agree with you there OP.

I take my two DCs to our local library, which has a Children's area. It has cushions, small chairs and a few wooden toys. I don't think they would have these things if they weren't trying to bring in children. They also have singing and story sessions, which in no way is quiet!

5Foot5 Wed 14-Nov-12 17:05:02

Our library has two floors. Downstairs, as well as the general fiction and other popular books, there is a children's section with comfy settees and bright displays and I don't suppose anyone minds a bit of lively chatter. Upstairs is where most of the reference books live and there are tables for people to study. This area tends to be a bit quieter, although there are no signs to request this. On the whole it is a compromise that seems to work quite well.

However, while I don't mind a bit of chatter from small children I think you have a point where older children are concerned. I was in there one lunchtime during the half term and a couple of boys who must have been around 10 or 11 (definitely old enough to know better) were racing around playing tag and generally being a nuisance to anyone just browsing. Their parent(s) didn't seem to be doing anything to intervene and in the end some other random adult spoke sternly to them.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 14-Nov-12 17:07:16

Our library is actually in a pub.

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