Quiet, or not Quiet

The Quiet/Not Quiet Troubles plague University libraries worldwide, I think. It is, at the very least, an intense problem locally, here at UNCC. It seems to me that there are legitimate work-based reasons why people want to be noisy (well, reasonably so) in the library. Think of: group work, studying in pairs. And there are time-honored and important reasons to need quiet in the library.

And so, we have group study rooms. Noise contained in a room, people outside the room are happy in their quiet. But, what about when those are full? What then?

Is the first floor really ever going to be a quiet space? Is it reasonable to expect it to be? Should we continue to spit in the wind, putting furniture on the first floor, high-traffic areas, that signal “quiet study here?”

What if much of the first floor was an open space with places for both group and individual study, but with very little expectations that the space be “library quiet?”

Where, then, should the quiet spaces be?

8 thoughts on “Quiet, or not Quiet

  1. Anonymous

    I think that students should expect the first floor to be somewhat noisy since the main entrance of the library is the first floor and that is where most are entering/exiting and deciding what area would be best for them to study in.

    You are asking where should the quiet spaces be? I think quiet spaces should be designated for the upper floors and toward the back of each floor.

    But in my opinion there are plenty of quiet zones already in the library, especially since the 3rd floor has been designated a quiet zone. My issue is that problem is not where to have quiet study room, but how to enforce the “quiet” in those zones.

    I find it highly annoying when I go to a designated part of the libray, specifically marked “quiet zone” and still have to deal with people carrying on conversations and answering their cell phones when there are signs posted stating that those activities are prohibited.

    So I propose that the “quiet” in the quiet zones be enforced more strictly.

  2. Anonymous

    I have no problem asking students to move it somewhere else. It comes down to your own disposition toward confrontation. Maybe a set of guidelines on “how to have difficult conversations” or a “shushing helper card”…

  3. Richard Allen

    I believe libraries should stay libraries. The concept of a library has always been known as a quite zone. That goes for the whole library. If you want to have group study rooms, which we do, that is fine. If you want to make a whole floor for group study, that is fine as well. However, making the first floor a group study zone would be a mistake. You are forgetting there is a huge opening straight up to the second floor. Do you think the people on the second floor would not be able to hear the loud people on the first floor? Being someone who struggles to concentrate when there are obtrusive noises going on around me, I can assure you that a large majority of people on the second floor would hear the people on the first floor and not be able to focus on their work. The first floor really isn’t that loud. Sure there is traffic, it’s a public library what do you expect. Atkins in general is not a noisy library. However, there are those annoying people who just can’t figure out how to shut their mouths when they should. I myself have no problem confronting someone like that. My girlfriend on the other hand would have a heart attack if she confronted someone. Maybe a librarian or someone should make rounds every 15 or 30 minutes, whatever’s practical. What I don’t understand is why in such a big building, such limited space is given to the students. More floors should be accessible to the students. This would help with the noise factor. – Just an idea.

  4. Donna Lanclos, Atkins Library Ethnographer

    Richard, that’s all so interesting. I wonder what you would think about the ground floor being the focus of a group study area (given that the rooms we have in the library cannot meet demand). The atrium does not go all the way to the ground floor, so the noise would not rise up.

    And what do you mean by “more floors should be available to the students?” I thought only the 4th floor was off-limits (for equipment)? Am I wrong?

  5. Mike

    cell phones are the BIGGEST problem.

    quite zones are needed, but the hordes of people talking on cell phones make the library an unpleasant place to be/study/work.

  6. Jesse

    I’m glad cell phone jammers are illegal, I wouldn’t suggest we include them in our library. I would however suggest the idea of having quiet floors instead of quiet zones. Also, I would find it favorable that all study rooms be unlocked at all times. Sure, one could ask people to keep it down, but you can only do so much. Also, the amount of time one may spend asking other people to be quiet would definitely be lowered by having an explicit floor for being totally quiet on. Most fraternities and sororities on campus have mandatory library time; this time is usually spent socializing. There’s nothing wrong with socializing, but this would probably happen on the second floor, and so if these zones were to be created in terms of the first floor being loud, and the second floor being quiet, then it would be important to enforce the ideal of sororities and fraternities meeting on the first floor instead of the second floor.

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