Once upon a time, there was a place you could go for peace and quiet, where everyone sat with their head bowed over book or paper, or scanned shelves of books soundlessly. You could even hear the pages flipping in this sanctum of silence. We called it a library.
In a month of employment at the library, I've experienced just two days where I didn't need to tell anyone to turn down their music or lower their voices. Of course that had everything to do with campus police officers being in the building most of the morning.
When did the library lose its status as a quiet zone? When did it become the mall food court on a Saturday afternoon, hangout for boisterous groups, cell phone conversation about television shows, and dinner dates of fast food and soda? This isn't confined to the college's library either, it's taking place at the local public library and many others I've been out to.
Obviously patrons there to work have a hard time concentrating over all the raised voices or the scent of fried chicken drifting from somewhere among the books, I know from experience, but I have never had to deal with those conditions in a library before. It's still astonishing when I have to tell a group to keep it down because I can hear them across the room.
The library was my last haven for tranquility, for quiet I could hear myself plot stories in. The peace is suffocating slowly in the grip of inconsideration. I can't be the only person experiencing this unfortunate decay and hoping it isn't permanent.
My library is working on ways to stop the consistent disruptive behavior and abuse without a need for us to remind people on a daily basis. No success yet, but just being involved in the planning brings me some hope.
If you have similar problems at your local library, I can assure you, you aren't the only one there grumbling under your breath about the lack of respect, at least one employee there, and probably a few patrons, share your opinion. Everyone is just trying to wait the disturbance out, when general policy is on our side. Just one complaint could begin a change for the better. Could bring a return to the standards many were taught to instinctively uphold.
How is it at your local library, have you noticed signs, or is it still a haven?