Noise in Libraries
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.