Public Libraries

Posted on 5 March 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , |

There’s a bit of debate at the moment about public libraries and most especially, the State Library.

When I was growing up libraries were for being very quiet in. I was even scared to whisper in them. Things have changed.

There’s always been a problem getting young people into them to get them to read and things are no different now. I’ve seen debates over the use of libraries and I’ve seen the influx of different kinds of media. At first it was talking books, but now there are DVDs, music CDs and games on DVD. All of these things make it harder to keep the noise level down as young people wander round talking about them. In the State Library Reading Room they’re having a bit of a problem with the noise and I happen to agree with both sides. If we want to encourage young people to come in and use the library then we have to put with a bit of noise but on the other hand we need a place for quiet time, for reading and writing. I know I’m odd in that when I write I generally need noise and I do my best work when there’s lots happening around me but some people can only write when it’s quiet and they can’t get that at home so they take their computer to the library to work there. I heard about this story through Twitter, most specifically, Leslie Cannold who is a Melbourne academic and writer. To her it feels like the domed Reading Room at the State Library is no longer a place for concentrated quiet work and study.

So, I’m torn. Shall we go back to the quiet libraries of old so people like Lesley Cannold can work in peace or shall we put up with a good deal of noise to encourage young people to use the libraries? As always, I’d like to suggest some happy medium but I don’t know the State Library well enough to be able to suggest a room where young people can come and study together in the noise they feel they need so as to leave the Reading Room as a quiet place.


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