When I arrived, there was an elderly man intently whacking the clicky keys on an old IBM Selectric typewriter. A few feet away, a library volunteer slowly ran a vacuum cleaner, meticulously sucking up each piece of fiber on the already immaculately clean carpet.
The man on the typewriter finished up quickly enough and then wheeled it back to the Smithsonian. And the man with the vacuum moved on to another area of the library that didn't need vacuuming.
But then, a group of three mentally handicapped adults arrived with an escort; they all sat down two tables away from me. I mean no disrespect, but I will say that their behavior is like what I'd expect of my young son if I tried to sit him down in the adult section of the library. In other words, it's not what I think of as being library-like. It's LOUD.
Which brings me to my point.
When I was a kid, you went to the library for a quiet place to work or study. That doesn't seem to be a safe assumption any more.
The other day there was an article in our paper on this topic. The article focused on discouraging cell phone use in libraries, in particular, but it talked about how libraries have become more like community centers, and that at least one of our newer area libraries was designed with this in mind. These aren't the libraries of my youth, where the librarians went around shushing everyone (I'm sounding like an old lady, huh?). And I'm not talking about the children's room, where talking and laughing (and running) are to be expected.
I'm cool with not using my phone in the library. The other day, I had a business meeting by phone from my car, just outside a library. It was no big deal to step outside.
Is there nowhere to go anymore, for a quiet place to work?
Where do you go?
Maybe I should just get myself some good earplugs.
(And yes, I'm touring the library circuit in upstate NY.)