Etiquette Question for The Internet

Is it no longer a thing that you’re supposed to STFU in the library? I’m asking because it’s been a while since I did a sustained amount of hanging out in my local temple to the written word, and things seem … louder there. By a lot. Is this me telling the kids to get off my lawn in which case I’ll get over it, or has something really changed in which case I’ll just wear some earplugs?


21 thoughts on “Etiquette Question for The Internet

  1. shit, surprised they don’t have a fucking teevee here + there. modern society seems to think silence is something to FEAR.

  2. As a librarian, I can tell you that thingshave changed. Ssshing has been removed from the job description and the public (in general) are clueless, so they do whatever they damn please. We tried getting people to turn off their cellphones upon entering the building and that really went over well…
    Sorry, A., but this is your GOML moment!

  3. I think it’s highly dependent on the library’s personality. At UChicago, the fourth floor and the A level of the main library were highly social, but that was widely tolerated because of the abundance of carrels deep within that grim building, where you could die and probably not be found for a few days.
    At the same time, there’s a reading lounge which is the first room you get to in the student union – in the middle of coffee shops and a theater and whatnot, so basically the center of campus – and it’s totally silent, completely enforced by social rules. It’s a small miracle of socially-enforced dignity.
    The only library I frequent these days is the big downtown Chicago public library, and it’s always seemed tolerably quiet. Might just be that particular location.

  4. You kids with your shusshing in the library! Don’t you know what you are supposed to do. You don’t wear earplugs you wear Ipod plugs! And you play that Rock and or Roll on the Ipod as you snap your fingers to that beatnik hip-hop.
    You’re welcome.

  5. Public libraries are often more about providing space for community. Usually you can find a quiet room/space somewhere. Academic libraries are different, but even they provide space for group studying and interaction.
    Librarians are trying to get away from the shushing stereotype.

  6. I think there are quiet parts of big libraries but once local branches went into providing internet access and popular movies I think people started to behave like they were in their local market, not a place o’ quiet. Libraries have changed. My local branch checks out freaking fishing poles. That’s cool and all but it’s not like when we were kids walking uphill to school both ways.
    Semi OT: Check out the new Abe Lincoln exhibit at Harold Washington if you get a chance. It’s small but pretty cool and chock-a-block full of neat photographs and prints. And free is good. Plus there is a funky view of the Sears (eat me Willis) Tower from the Atrium at the Big Liberry.

  7. This is exactly what Pat Buchanan was looking for when he called for his “culture war”. The easiest way to be elite is to wreck the economy (way to go W), then slow-track the recovery (thanks Wall Street) and hope to find a couple of GOP Ken and Barbie dolls the cabal can manage after election (talking about you Piyush and Sarah) and then stand atop the ruins and proclaim themselves Caesar.

  8. Screw the earplugs. Make a statement, get some big clunky ear protection so everyone can appreciate your GOML sentiments.

  9. Thanks for the input, guys. Guess I’ll just have to get myself an ear trumpet and a cane to shake at the whippersnappers.

  10. I know at Miami U. (the one in Ohio) it depended on the floor of King library. If you were on the first floor, it was pickup central and loud. On the third floor, which was the government document repository, a church mouse would have sounded like an elephant.
    Granted, this was many moons ago (1989-1993), but I wouldn’t be surprised if the third floor is still silent central.
    A the Cincinnati Public Library it is much the same – most of the library is loud, but there are those sections where it is nice and quiet. Sadly, these are usually diametrically opposite to the area of the library where your needed materials are.

  11. A, I am with you – I went to my local library the other day and even though not maxxed out w/peeps, it was above the general level of noise I grew up APPRECIATING = silence or extremely low mumble. The library was (is?) my refuge – if I want to buzz around books and blab on and jam out, I can take my iPod and hit the adjacent Barnes & Noble/borders. I WANT the librarians to “shush!” hell, I still would LOVE to be a librarian someday so that I could do so. I will check the library out again (ha) since I have to renew/turn in my books tomorrow – if it is still sounding like a rumble in Brighton is about to happen, I’m saying something. Plus, two weeks ago, it smelled like some form of butt when I walked in, and the place is maybe a year old. It’s pretty, but the loudness and butt-smell are rather offputting items.

  12. I think it’s partly the change in the libraries’ broadening of their collections these days (the movies, computers, etc) that is driving this and unfortunately too many people are too self absorbed to have any consideration for others.

  13. You’re right about the aversion to silence today, but I’m starting to think it’s a function of mass deafness, induced by iPods, Walkmans and “THX-certified” movie theaters.
    I can only assume that Tomlinson Holman — the LucasFilm genius behind the THX program — is stone deaf, because I have never emerged from one of his auditoriums without a headache.

  14. Now I’m not feeling quite so guilty about not frequenting my library much anymore. I found that when I started teaching, I was able to justify buying ridiculous numbers of books in the name of “research” because they were–get this–tax deductible!
    The tax guy never should have told me that…now I’ve turned into the American community college’s equivalent of an Oxford don, sleeping amid piles of books with the occasional cat draped across them. (Sadly for my housekeeping, this is not hyperbole.)

  15. Holy Crap, Buggy Q, thank God we haven’t done our taxes yet. You might have just given us a refund!
    some form of butt
    I will be giggling all day about this.

  16. Didn’t realize there are so many fellow librarians on this list.
    Definitely things have changed, as stated above.
    I’m in a medical school library. The idea now is to provide all different types of study space ranging from those who like a tomb-like isolation to those who like to study in the middle of the local fast food joint while socializing. People learn different ways.
    As we’re a small school in a small community and deal almost exclusively with professional students, we let the students police themselves. Very rarely do we have anyone who abuses the limits of the group.
    Downside is we just had to move our collection for a 3rd time this year.

  17. I have sat in a reading area in my local library, with the adjacent chair occupied by someone talking on their cell phone as they type their assignment on their laptop, discussing every word of it with whomever they were talking to. Yes, I was annoyed, but since I wear hearing aids, I can shut out the world anytime I wish. A., your ear trumpet has nothing on my hearing aids.

  18. A., I think it is in part what GReynolds said (“too many people are too self absorbed to have any consideration for others“), but also that there are more people using the library these days who may have never darkened its doors before. I was at our local branch yesterday, and the librarian told me they’d had more applications for library cards in the last 3 months than in all of 2008.
    More people are using the library to (1) help them search for a job (either using the internet they can no longer afford at home or checking out books on resume writing, etc.), and (2) to get for free what they might have previously bought at a bookstore or rented from Blockbuster.
    Of course, ironically the same economy which is pushing more people to use the library is also leading to massive cuts in library budgets: mine has had to cut its schedule drastically, closing on Sundays and being open for at least 3 hours less per day Monday-Saturday.

  19. As I’ve grown older I find I have less GOML moments. Time was I’d get really huffed with noisemakers, but now I have a lot more patience.
    In our local branch library, there’s a fair level of noise because there is a large kids’ section with reading tables and chairs and library volunteers who will read to any kid who asks. We take our grandson (age 4) there a lot and allow him to browse to his heart’s content, and then he checks his selections out at the desk all by himself.
    The main library (Portland, OR) is much quieter, and of course much, much larger.

  20. I’m a fan of introducing more Faraday cage-like construction to public buildings. Young’uns can deal.

  21. Depends on the Library. University of Hertfordshire “Learning Resources Centre”: crate full of monkeys, and even the ‘silent study areas’… aren’t.
    Cambridge University Library: peace, perfect peace.

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