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To think that libraries should be places for study and quiet reflection

(30 Posts)
fishdishwish Sun 16-Nov-14 16:14:05

...and not social spaces for yammering, wittering and flirting?

The newly-refurbished Central Library in Manchester looks great, but the ground floor section (which now houses the local history stuff & a marvellous BFI Mediatheque) seems to have been over-run with people who can't keep quiet for more than a few seconds. Kids running amok and shrieking, studenty couples nuzzling one another, people loudly conversing - the general noise level is overwhelming. Fair enough, I don't expect a bloody Trappist monastery, but it would be nice to be able to read or watch something without constant background blare.

LegsOfSteel Sun 16-Nov-14 16:18:02

Our local library is really noisy. It's just one open space so the noise travels. I tried to study there a few times but found it was quieter in a café.

Cantbelievethisishappening Sun 16-Nov-14 16:18:34

Then go to one of the quiet sections

TheAlias Sun 16-Nov-14 16:20:10

Libraries are closing through lack of use. The culture change was needed to make them more accessible or there would be none left.

I don't like it either but I'd rather our library didn't close.

fishdishwish Sun 16-Nov-14 16:33:28

Fair point, Alias.

Cantbelieve - I could do, but some of the stuff I want to access iss just in that section!

IAmAPaleontologist Sun 16-Nov-14 16:42:29

Most libraries have a separate quiet/study area. If you want to use material from the noisy part then you get it and take it to the study area then hand it back to be reshelved after. I'm unsure of the problem, books are movable you don't need to work in the exact location of the book.

I think it is great that libraries have evolved, I think in some respects they have taken on the role of the village hall/community hall of old. They host knit and natter groups, story time for children. My local one has an afternoon a week where you can drop in for a cup of tea and a cake and another day has an after school craft session. Why not? It makes it a focal point, a place to bring people together.

Krytes42 Sun 16-Nov-14 16:44:20

Our library recently created a Makerspace, which has tons of cool equipment and is usually full of people doing interesting, creative things, not necessarily quietly. They have storytime, songs, and baby groups for kids. It's also one of the only warm places in my dangerously cold city, so homeless people hang out there for a nap or to use the computers. The library has a program where social workers try to build relationships with vulnerable people in the library, with the hope that they'll eventually be willing to access supports and get help.
So, short version - my library isn't just a place to read books in silence. It's a place where everyone in the community is welcome, and it's actively working to make everyone's lives better and more interesting. I love it this way!

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 16-Nov-14 16:47:39

DD and I go to the local library every week, since she was tiny. We couldn't have if it were quiet. Obviously no screaming or whatever. The only people using our local library are homeless people, parents and children and a smattering of older people, students and so on. Remove the parents and it would probably close (the homeless people aren't normally a massive source of income, parents are).

IgnoreMeEveryOtherReindeerDoes Sun 16-Nov-14 16:53:23

Well its going to get heck of alot noiser in ours anyway given our local sure start centre has been taken over by action for children and services are now been directed to the Library.

It's a great shame as a parent with a chikd under 5 and those that like a peaceful library.

Kiffykaffycoffee Sun 16-Nov-14 17:48:58

See your point OP, but the best thing about libraries is you can take the books home and read them in peace grin . Libraries have become for social places in recent years.
As long as your library is popular and well used it's hopefully safe from being closed down, which is what has happened to a lot of libraries.
I think you just have to put up with a certain level of noise because the library is a real community hub these days.
Are there quieter times when you could go? Eg later in the day when the young kids have gone home?

unweavedrainbow Sun 16-Nov-14 17:56:29

What about your local university library? They often have reader cards for people who aren't part of the university and will be much, much quieter than your local library.

flack Sun 16-Nov-14 18:12:28

Our Uni library allows food & chat.

It's a bit like churches, no?
Not many people actually want a moribund space for contemplation. So if you want a morgue-like atmosphere, there won't be many of them available and those left really will be only for people with one foot in the grave. I wouldn't feel safe to take my children to either.

unweavedrainbow Sun 16-Nov-14 18:18:12

Ah see our uni library has 5 floors of which the top 3 floors are silence and water only, on pains of being chucked out. Some bits don't even allow water. Most uni libraries I presumed would have something similar, I know I need silence to study and reference only books that can't be borrowed, so i get where the OP is coming from.

Ours is on two floors, the ground floor is generally find for normal level conversation, it always seems fairly quiet even when it's busy and full of children, but I wouldn't be able to study there. Upstairs is the reference section and I have tried to study there, only to find it also hosts meetings for local societies and acts as an informal drop-in for elderly people to come in and reminisce about the war. Both of which are valuable social functions. But it makes it hard to study.

Minisoksmakehardwork Sun 16-Nov-14 18:18:44

Yab slightly u. The running amok is one thing but people are allowed to converse at a reasonable volume instead of hushed whispers.

I love my library as I can take my 4 dc, pick up some books, do a puzzle and then go home. I am conscious that mine aren't the quietest children so I keep them to the children's section and don't allow them free reign in the library. I was enternally grateful the day dtd(2) kicked off big time temper tantrumming because I wouldn't let her pull all the books off the shelf. I just wanted to get out of there as she was awful. They clearly either had a complaint or realised as one of the ladies came round and asked if I needed help (dd was very, very loud). So she checked my books out while I gathered our things, apologising profusely.

LarrytheCucumber Sun 16-Nov-14 18:44:09

You are on a hiding to nothing OP. It isn't the done thing to have a quiet library any more.

bodhranbae Sun 16-Nov-14 18:48:05

Better to have a noisy library than have no library at all.

We have the most frequented library in the country (smug) and it teems with people of all ages from morning to night.

LePetitMarseillais Sun 16-Nov-14 18:54:13

Yanbu and it was in the media last week I think that there is a campaign to make them quieter as they are starting to alienate their core clientele.

Our brand new library has a bloody soft play area complete with instruments in the middle of the children's area and the brand new Play Station on a big screen which is used alongside singing sessions.It's full of rampaging Boden clad toddlers let to run wild screeching at the tops of their voices amongst the bookcases.The noise is so bad my tweens(the very sector libraries desperately want in) don't want to go in.

One day I actually mentioned it it to the librarian asking how her ear drums coped with it and she said it is a huge problem and driving them mad,so much so they're trying to think of ways to improve it.

It hacks me off actually as everything is aimed at toddlers with scant regard for other age groups.Our librarian said keeping tweens and teens going to libraries is a problem and their target area.One wonders which bright spark then thought sticking their books in the middle of a giant parent manned creche(which is basically what it now is) was the answer.

windchime Sun 16-Nov-14 18:54:58

YANBU. It makes me sad that my DCs won't enjoy studying in the peace and quiet of a library like I did. Our one-roomed library suffers from toddler groups, performance parenting (reading very loudly to a very small child to the consternation of all others) public meetings and a music group! The Community Centre across the road remains empty and quiet .

hazeyjane Sun 16-Nov-14 19:04:26

I love the way our local library is. It is a small library, but they cater for a wide variety of people, but seem to work it out well in that everyone knows that Weds will be a bit noisier (they have a toddler/baby singing group) followed by a book club, followed by a lunch group for adults with learning disabilities. There are often children running around (some probably even wearing Boden, not sure why that would be relevant) and parents reading to children, but there will also be older people choosing books, reading papers and on the computers.

It is much more vibrant than the libraries of my childhood (mother a librarian, also thinks they have improved!)

writemyname Sun 16-Nov-14 19:04:54

the top floor of my uni library has a cafe and it's just one big hang out. people loll around on the floor, have their lattes by their lap tops, eat their lunch etc... the books I need are only loaned out in 4 hr chunks so I tend to stay up there but find it difficult to concentrate. I went to the quiet study area a floor below and had to leave cos a girl was crunching her way through a very big bag of crisps very slowly.

bodhranbae Sun 16-Nov-14 19:09:45

they are starting to alienate their core clientele

Core clientele? confused

Last time I checked libraries belonged to all of us and are paid for by all of us and are not some fusty 50s relic set aside solely for an elite subsection of society.

LePetitMarseillais Sun 16-Nov-14 19:12:51

Um plenty of us not in elite sections of society would like some degree of peace and quiet in libraries and given that many kids living in chaotic homes are not lucky enough to have places to study quietly at home or read it is important.

LePetitMarseillais Sun 16-Nov-14 19:14:21

Oh and quiet doesn't gave to equal fusty.Our brand new library is bright,airy,modern and filled with thousands of the latest books.

MsFanackerPants Sun 16-Nov-14 19:19:19

What is it you want to use on the ground floor? Is it archive stuff, cos if not reading room is quiet on the second floor. The arts library is quiet. It's pretty quiet in general readers in the basement apart from the children's section
The cafe is owned and run by the library trust and helps bring money into the library. It is really not that noisy unless you go in when there is a performance. Saturday was the last day of the events curated by Everything Everything which was a pretty popular and big event which brought in a lot of people who wouldn't usually visit a libray.

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