...I know I've talked about the wonders of the library
in the past, and it's time to revisit that topic. I was inspired to talk about this a little more in light of a topic that appeared recently on a bulletin board that I manage. The topic was about how libraries had changed over the years.
This wasn't about the technology that's how available at the library, or the fact that at some you can borrow PS2 games, or having wireless hotspots to connect to, although those are all wonderful changes that some libraries have. This was about the fact that libraries have become so darn noisy.
That's right. Noisy. And it's a problem that's not just restricted to libraries, but that's what I'm going to focus on. A lot of the responses, and the original poster, pointed out that none of the library staff seems to do anything about the noisy children that want to play or scream while they're in the sanctuary that a library should be. Neither do the parents of said children, as they're more engrossed in gossiping with a neighbor or trying to read something and impress upon their children (seemingly by osmosis instead of active example) that quiet reading is a Very.Good.Thing.
I was going to respond to the thread myself, but I found that I just kept going on and on and on about the things that I have seen in the library lately and decided that a blog entry might be a better answer.
I'm thinking that some of these parents are just using the library as a safe and quiet place where thier children can run around to their heart's content with little danger of them hurting themselves or getting snatched by a stranger while the parent sticks their nose into a book. I saw an example of it recently myself. On a rather nice Sunday afternoon I wandered off to the library with A & B because I had a couple of books on hold to pick up, and they needed something new to read. I checked my books out, and found an empty chair near a window and started reading while the kids finished exploring and hunting the shelves for things that they would enjoy.
A lady with a three or four year old girl sits down in the set of chairs across from me. She settles the child into the chair and promptly plugs her into a portable DVD player and earpiece headphones. I wonder briefly if anyone has told her that you shouldn't use those sorts of earphones with small children, and then go back to my reading. Within a minute, the child is fidgety, whiny, and has pulled out the earphone. The mother admonishes the child gently and gets her set up again before she can return to her reading.
If I can call it that, considering it was a trash mag that I'm fairly certain the library doesn't carry (National Enquirer, anyone).
Now the child is engrossed in the movie, giggling and pointing and laughing and chattering back at the screen. All while the librarian sits about 15 feet away and does nothing to tell this woman to quiet her child down. There were two children about my daughters' ages sitting at the tables in the same area, and they got up and moved to another area across the library (I watched where they went). I'm going to assume it was because of this rude woman and her child. I figured that she was probably waiting for another child who was picking out something to read, but that's still no excuse for the behavior of her younger child who could have been set down with a stack of picture books instead.
Oh wait, that's what the mom was reading - grown up picture books. Never mind.
I got tired of the noise, so I rounded up the kids and left the library, and she was walking through the parking lot at the same time. It was just her and her daughter. I could not believe it - they didn't check anything out as far as I could tell, and she set her daughter loose with a DVD player and a movie in the middle of a library.
I don't know about you, but 3 or 4 years old is certainly not too young to set a child down with a picture book or something easy to look at. And in a library it's a great age to start teaching them about the wonderful things about books. Instead she was probably looking for some quiet place she could 'plug in' her child while she read trash. Ah, the example she sets for her child, reading that trash mag - because that's what her child is probably going to end up reading eventually as a mental source of the written word...
...if she bothers to unplug herself from the television in the first place.