|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
Making Some Noise @ your library
By Hilery Walker, Community Relations Coordinator and Bill Nelson, Director
November 30, 2005
We recently opened our suggestion box and read, “This used to be a QUIET Library.” We took this as a compliment. The matter of increased sound has been popping up at libraries across the nation and at NCPL we think we have got a handle on it.
As information becomes more accessible and most homes have Internet, libraries have also evolved with the times. Part of this evolution is changing from the traditionally quiet institutions, where, as seen in a recent commercial, a delivery man is compelled to remove his shoes rather than risk squeaking across a library’s marble floor, to busy community centers serving the needs of children, teens, parents and seniors. This change means, to the joy of some and to the surprise of others, that libraries are buzzing with activity.
Increased decibel levels have concerned a number of library users around the nation. In a column from “American Libraries” in August 2003, long-time library patron Dr. Harry Stein states that on numerous occasions he has felt the need to leave his local library because it was too loud. When he complained to library staff, he was informed that “libraries are for everyone.” He ends his column stating that “librarians should be ashamed of themselves.” At NCPL, we don’t agree.
Most people are delighted to walk into a library that is alive and well. In the October 2003 edition of “America Libraries,” North Carolina library-user Erica Derr commented on Stein’s column, noting that “I’d prefer to have a noisy library being vigorously used, and supported, by the public than a quiet library that goes underused, underappreciated, and underfunded in these budget-crunching times.”
A related issue many libraries are struggling with is cell phone use. Some libraries have banned cell phone use entirely. For example, Huntington Beach Public Library in California gives first-time offenders a warning and then fines second-, third- and forth-time offenders $250, $500 and $1,000 respectively. While this is an extreme case, at NCPL most patrons are respectful about keeping conversations to a minimum and turning off ringers. The courtesy of NCPL’s patrons is an example for all American libraries.
Over the past five years, the number of people using NCPL has dramatically increased and the library is attracting a variety of new users. While we refrain from “shushing” our patrons, we recognize that some people come to the library seeking a quiet place to read, contemplate or study. While it might be a challenge to find a quiet corner of the main floor, the second floor offers more solitude in two glassed-in Wyoming alcoves. Each alcove has a comfy chair and a small desk, which are perfect for settling in with a good book or doing research while shutting out the working sounds that are part of a healthy, active library. We think the conversations of our patrons are the sounds of progress...and we have the numbers to prove it!
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