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Wasn’t the moon pretty this week?

Hello all! How has your week been? Mine was one of those weird weeks where it seems the planets are really out of alignment, especially at the library. We were all running for the door at closing on Friday because we just couldn’t wait to escape the madness. Many of us had a lot of uncomfortable patron interactions throughout the week mostly concerning noise. My branch is fairly small and everything is in one big room. The only area that is somewhat separated from the main library is the children’s room. We have many people who want the atmosphere to be like a traditional library – very quiet with no talking or other noise. But we also have a large number of patrons who want to be able to study in groups, use their cell phones, and socialize. There is frequent conflict between these two groups and, of course, they want staff to mediate. It can get very heated and usually leads to someone getting upset and wanting justice. Exhausting. What do you think a library should be – sanctuary or gathering place?

I finished a couple of books this week and started reading my book group’s February selection, The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I really enjoyed the first chapter, which introduces the characters and themes of the novel during a baseball game, and am engrossed in the story of two Jewish boys in Brooklyn who come from very different backgrounds and become best friends.

I know that the news of author Sophie Hannah being commissioned to write a new Hercule Poirot novel is fairly old news, but it came across my radar again this week and I started to ponder whether I will read the new novel or not. My first reaction is ‘yes’ because I would love to read a new Poirot story and it will be interesting to see what Hannah (none of whose novels I’ve been able to get through) will do with the tale, but we’ll see how I feel when it’s actually released. Will you read it?

I hope you have a really lovely Sunday!

20 Comments

  1. I don’t think general libraries have to be hushed, though I prefer that cell phone conversations be banned. Why are they so much more irritating than regular conversations? I read somewhere it’s because we only hear half of them, but also I think because they’re louder – and often more inane. I do NOT envy you having to mediate! Do you get the Monday holiday off? If so, I hope you enjoy it!

    • Cell phone conversations do seem to be more aggravating to everyone than the noise of two people chatting together – people seem particularly oblivious to what they are saying and who is hearing it. Having to mediate is not a fun part of my job – I really wish I never had to do it again!
      Thank goodness I did get today off. 🙂

  2. I personally don’t like too much noise in a library, but I find it interesting that people actually complain to the librarians where you are. Here, there would be much passive aggressive tutting but no one would actually do anything about it!

    • I don’t think our library is unreasonably noisy, but we have some very assertive souls who do and let us know about it! I bet most people never say anything when they’re bothered.

  3. piningforthewest

    The library which I first worked in was quite large but open plan and students came in to study so we were zero tolerance where noise was concerned, I was good at sorting out any nuisances! In my local library recently I witnessed a chap yelling into his mobile phone, and he was phoning his bank and giving all sorts of personal and painful financial details, the staff just ignored him but I was itching to chuck him out!
    I’ll give the new Poirot a try but I’m prepared to be disgusted.

    • It’s all so political now, Katrina. I know we walk on eggshells a lot so we don’t get threatened with having the mayor or city council called on us. I really despise it! Also, people get terribly defensive when you call them out on their inappropriate actions and it leads to unkindness and bad feelings – I’m sure the staff at your library have felt this, too.
      ‘Prepared to be disgusted’ is the most fantastic phrase – I love it!

  4. I work in a school library, and while I don’t impose silence on the students. I do ask them to keep it a little quieter than say, gym class. But when I go to our public library, I am appalled at home loud people are there sometimes! They have a separate area for groups who want to study together, and that is ok,. The problem seems to be mothers with small children. The kids are running wild, free, and willy nilly, yelling, while the moms talk loudly to each other, over the shouts of their kids. 🙁 I don’t think it needs to be necessarily dead silent, but I do appreciate a little less noise than what we have.

  5. A sanctuary, please! It isn’t Walmart. Mothers with small children are the problem in libraries and stores!

    • I totally understand, Nancy, but I think I’m able to tune most of the kid & mom chatter out pretty well. I will be more sensitive to it now, though!

  6. Sanctuary and gathering place would be perfect, if there’s space for both! But that’s always the trick — libraries can’t be all things to all people, as much as I’m sure they would want to.

    I hope you keep on enjoying The Chosen. It’s been one of my favorite books since we read it in class in ninth grade English.

    • No, we can’t, unfortunately, but it would be wonderful if we could be. I think most people realize that, but there are always those squeaky wheels 🙂
      I finished The Chosen on Sunday night and loved it. It was very moving and made me think about many things in my own upbringing.

  7. I would prefer silence, but I would also like libraries to be living and loved places, so I’m prepared to compromise. I only draw the line at the consumption of tuna sandwiches (this happened at my uni library in the next cubicle!) – a sad and smelly thing to inflict on another library patron!

    • It would be lovely if everyone thought the way you do! And, gross about the tuna sandwich. We are very strict about no food, but sometimes people sneak in burgers and fries – you can smell them a mile away!

  8. I think in today’s society libraries are gathering places. My library has research, writing and book clubs. Storytellers and performers work in the children’s sections. While at night they allow my theatre group to run workshops. Quiet sanctuary like libraries in the UK are the one’s dying out. In a perfect world I think libraries should offer a bit of both.

    • I think we do offer a bit of both, but some people are not willing to let the traditional image of a library die out. To be honest, if I really wanted a quiet place to study I wouldn’t go to the library!

  9. I like the quiet in libraries but at the same time it’s nice to be able to speak without worrying someone is going to say ‘shh’. I agree with Jessica, a bit of both is best, but of course you need the room to be able to do that. Quiet in one corner/side and conversation at the other? If the room is big enough that could work.

    • The way our library is configured doesn’t really allow for different zones. All computers and study tables are smooshed together in the middle of the library, surrounded by book stacks and our reference desk. I don’t think the designers planned for quiet areas, unfortunately. I think most people are reasonable with their expectations, but those few zealots make it hard for all of us.

  10. In defense of mothers with small children, they aren’t all bad. There are some well behaved kids out there. There are also some normally well behaved kids who are just having an off day. That goes for mothers, too.
    Most of my days as a mother of a small kid were pretty much off!!!

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