My response – albeit a little later than it should have been.

Hello all,

First off, apologies for the belated nature of this response!

As I was reading this weeks theory piece by Manguel, I was reminded of a particular episode of the BBC show, Sherlock. In the final episode of the second season, Watson finds himself in the Diogenes Club, (a fictional gentleman’s club created by Arthur Conan Doyle in his famous series. Check out the wiki site here.) This club allows gentlemen a place to read with no distractions from the outside world and in fact, speaking or noise-making of any kind is strictly prohibited, on pain of exclusion. In this episode, Watson enters the club unknowingly and begins speaking to the elderly gentlemen patrons of the club, who all respond in (silent and seething) anger and shock, and Watson is shown briskly out of the room by two men with baggies on their shoes to muffle the sound.

Most of us grew up with libraries as quiet places in which people could read or study without distractions, but this silence is no longer being enforced as it was. There are articles upon articles to be found in the depths of the internet lamenting the loss of the rule of the ‘inside voices’ in our libraries. (here, here and here, just to list some.) While the innovative technology (and the amazing game stations) that we are putting into new libraries are making them appealing to the younger generations, older traditions, (like silence in the library,) are being shunted aside to make room for them.

Personally, I feel that libraries should be quiet places. Not necessarily ‘silent-as-a-ninth-century-monastery-and-an-escort-service-out-the-door-for-loud-people’ quiet, but quiet enough to allow people to focus on whatever they are there for. I am all for libraries trying to keep up with the times and cater to the younger generations, but should it be at the cost of our concentration? What does the future of our libraries look like? Gaming arcades or this?

What do you think?

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One Response to My response – albeit a little later than it should have been.

  1. Thank you, Professor Ullyot, for including my blog piece in your links to articles about the loss of silence in libraries. At a visit to my library not too long ago, there was a boy about twelve years old, playing a game on an iPad…with the sound on. I wanted to ask him if he knew that there was a way to disable the sound temporarily, but then I realized that he probably already knew that. Instead I went into the stacks, where the ratio of books to iPads was much greater, and where it was quiet. I am fortunate that my library’s acoustics balance the old with the new.

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