Thursday, February 14, 2008

Libraries and our society

In the last week I saw two plays that celebrated the library (the PUBLIC library) as a place that is conducive to romance--She Loves Me and The Music Man. Then today in Heloise's column in the paper she discussed libraries as places of peace and quiet. Or at least that was the consensus of those she quoted:

Heloise column

Libraries no longer quiet places to relax, research
Dear Readers: We had a comment from a reader regarding how loud and disruptive her library was. We asked readers for their comments, and boy, oh boy, did they respond! Here are some of the remarks: . From Carol, via e-mail: “From childhood through adulthood I have been an avid library patron. Libraries used to be quiet places. We were taught in school to use our quiet, indoor voices while attending the library. I now find that the library is a noisy place where it is hard to concentrate.” . From Meena, via e-mail: “I feel it is up to the library staff to keep the library quiet. I do not think that patrons who come to read in the library should be moved to a quiet area just because there are inconsiderate people making noise. The noisemakers should be moved to a special area — outside the library!” . From Junior, via e-mail: “When I was growing up, I rode my bicycle to our smalltown library to read and check out my favorite books. The librarian was always helpful, and it was always as quiet as a deserted church. Now I find adults who are talking loudly on cell phones, ignoring signs not to. There were carloads of kids being dropped off and then proceeding to run around like it was the local jungle gym. Now I do my research on the Internet and buy books at the bookstore.” . From Sally, via e-mail: “Public libraries are for all people, if they adhere to the rules. Why should a library have to set aside a separate, specific quiet area? The entire library should be an oasis of calm and peace for study or enjoyment of the offered materials. The serious library patrons are entitled to that.” Write to: Heloise , P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 782795000 or fax to 210-HELOISE .

This was interesting to me since I have some concern about the future of academic libraries and their services, but I have felt (and still feel) that public libraries are quite healthy. They may not be a tomb but they are far from being chaos.

Any opinions?

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