Quiet please: our noisy libraries

The Norwich Evening News just noticed The days of tiptoeing around libraries miming to avoid the wrath of a fierce librarian are long gone.

Today, chatting, talking on a mobile phone and even laughing seem to be commonplace as the face of libraries changes to attract a wider audience.

However, the changes seem to have created a bit of a generation gap, with Evening News readers contacting us to bemoan the loss of the quiet calm which libraries used to exude.


My rule of thumb is that the minute I hear one particular voice above the fray, I track down the mouth from which it is eminating and shush them. (No, I really just tell them to lower their voice). Sometimes it's a kid, sometimes it's an adult. Sometimes it's a staff member, for that matter.

Next rule: If I hear a phone ring anywhere that bad boy gets shut off, or taken outside. We don't allow mobile phones. For awhile we had a group of kids that would call each other... not from across the room, but from across a table. I told them the next time they tried it, they'd be thrown out for the day. Threw one of them out. They got the point. To be fair, told them that phones on vibrate are perfectly within bounds, if they are answered outside in the lobby.

I don't mind a loudish library, as long as there are places to go that are quiet. We have a quiet study room, for instance. A loud library means that people are using it.