Saturday, December 29, 2007

Noise in Libraries

I know I said I wasn't going to post until after the new year, but Rhea over at The Boomer Chronicles invited me to answer a question posted on her blog, and I found myself writing such a long winded comment, that instead of bogging her post down with my reply, I'd do better to post it here.

She asked why were libraries so loud now. Back in the day, libraries were bastions of silence. Now it's not unusual to get a headache due to the noise level in a library. I know this because I have gotten them on occasion in Library X, but I wasn't going to shush anyone. Why not?

This is not a definitive answer or probably a correct answer. It's definitely not a concise answer.

The issue of noise varies from library to library, but Rhea is right leniency has grown over the years. In public libraries, I believe the philosophy is, they want to be more inviting to everyone and more people wish to talk than not. A balance between quiet areas and talking areas is hard to maintain in a small open library. In my local public libraries, the larger one maintains a quiet area in the reference section which is on another floor, while the children’s section is noisy, and another public library has noise throughout the library, mainly because there are no walls. It is just one large area, and very busy all the time. Noise happens. In Library X, we are the unofficial student union. Clubs gather here, study groups meet, even birthday parties are thrown. This has become part of our function.

But you are more likely to find quiet areas in academic libraries. (Library X is not the norm.) Sometimes those quiet areas are designated by the library, but usually the patrons are the ones who determine the noise level. In Library X, we have designated the bottom floor as the quiet floor, while all other floors allow talking. But some of the other libraries on campus are quiet throughout. Not because the library strictly enforces quiet but because the patrons are inclined to be quiet.

In the end, I think the noise level is determined by the library’s community. The noisy library is usually a place for programs, get-togethers, and community outreach. The quiet library is for research, academic study, and other scholastic purposes. Many of the public libraries are going to veer toward the noisy library because that’s the wish of the community. The public library is serving a much more diverse clientele, such as small children, teens, those seeking instruction on computers. None of these groups are inclined to be quiet. The academic library serves primarily students. The students come to the library to research papers, study for tests, READ. These are primarily quiet activities. So an academic library's community will wish for quiet.

If there’s a public university, a college, or even just a community college near you, you should check them out. You might find them more to your desired noise level, and often you will be able to check out materials from those libraries. I know you can at my community college and from any of the libraries on my university campus. All you need is a driver’s license from our state, and even then, we make exceptions.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

On Hiatus (Once Again)

Exams are over. WHOOPEE! I survived them relatively unscathed. It's a miracle. Now I am going on break. I won't return to work until January 2nd. I'll begin posting again some time after that.

Happy holidays, everyone.

P.S. Did you know today was the anniversery of the Boston Tea Party? Me neither, until I saw students handing out free tea. But doesn't that seem to go against the spirit of the event? Wouldn't it have been more inline to dump all that tea into UZ's swimming pool? No, I didn't tell the students this. Not going to give them ideas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kyle (one of my co-workers) clued me into this website. It's an addictive word knowledge game. I highly recommend it.

And you know, if your boss tells you to stop goofing off, you can tell him, "But I'm ending world hunger!" That should put him in his place.

I've reached level 46! And have dropped to 15. This isn't a game I'd recommend playing while drunk. But if you read a lot of your mom's Barbara Cartland books while growing up (because there was nothing else about to read), then get ready to rule this game. At least, I think it was the Cartland books that taught me what mincing, waggish, rakish, hostler, phaeton, bunco, tog, and collywobbles meant.

If you're a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, there's a few words in there for you like chanterelle, effulgent, and troika.

And I have a new favorite word - Frigorific.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Exams! The Sequel

Exams have once again begun at University Z, and it's like Library X has become the re-run library.

I've had the drunk carolers,

The brass band,

And random free stuff. This year including stress balls.

I think my exam flu came early this year.

But the best part is that the Secret Society isn't happy just to dump a load of pizzas on me as before, now they want me to rendezvous with them at a secret location to pick up the pizzas. I'd have to go across campus with a book truck to do this. WTF? It's not going to happen, Secret Society.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cancer Risk

Just announced, along with cigarettes and Sweet'N'Low, my work hours also increase my cancer risk.

This is just lovely. Lovely. Lovely.

My job is a cancer risk.


Question about IM Reference

Big Research Library handles the IM reference for the whole library system. Library X doesn't do IM reference. A few times now, I've gotten calls from Big Research Library to alert me of stuff going on in Library X that were submitted through IM reference. It could be temperature problems, suspicious person walking around, or something annoying happening on a lower floor like someone aggressively collecting signatures for a petition. The grad reference assistant calls us and relays the message. The Library X desk asst relays the message to staff. And staff tries to figure out what to do.

It seems like there should be something in place to cut out this circuitous communication. Like the petition thing, I could've found out more information if I'd been directly in contact with the students making the complaint. I could've found out if the petitioner was collecting signatures for some UZ thing or something political outside UZ. I would've asked exactly how the signatures were being collected, how many people were collecting signatures, etc. But the ref asst didn't have any more information.

By the time I went down to find the petitioners, they were on their way upstairs. At least I think so. The desk students told me two people with a lot of clipboards left while I was searching the building. No big deal, but I wonder if something better could be in place to relay information in these situations.

Is this an issue for other IM refs? Are other IM reference desks alerted to library problems outside their location and asked for assistance?

I don't want the students to stop alerting IM ref of these problems because I think if told to call or go physically to the local circ desk, that the problem won't be reported, and I do want to know about these problems, but I also want to be able to get as much info as possible.

So I'd be really interested if anyone else has anything in place for this sort of dilemma. Maybe just having the grad ref student call the main desk and report the IMs to whoever picks up is best, but I feel like this could be set up better.