Shushing the shusher

July 21st, 2011 · 109 comments

Anna in Minneapolis (“librarian in peach sweater”) recently received this anonymous note from a disgruntled library patron. “Apparently, I was talking too loudly to one of our elderly customers on the phone,” she says. “So much for Minnesota nice!”

Whatever happened to speaking QUIETLY in a library? librarian in peach sweater.

related: You seem like really nice people. Really.

extra credit: Just know that I have a whole bag of shhh! with your name on it [youtube]

FILED UNDER: etiquette · library · Minneapolis/St. Paul · noise

109 responses so far ↓

  • #1   Hushed Shusher

    We get this ALL THE TIME in our library. Why am I being shushed in my own library?!

    Jul 21, 2011 at 9:48 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   dave

      I don’t know. Because you talk too much and too loud ALL THE TIME?

      Jul 21, 2011 at 10:28 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #2   Denise

    my mom worked in a library, the head librarian actually asked them not to whisper to each other….because it would give the impression you are talking about someone. She was afraid that a library patron would think they were talking about him/her, and that would be rude.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 9:51 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   Heather

    You can’t shush a librarian !!!! That’s just crazy. The nerve of some people. Seriously, you just can’t do it. Not even in a note.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 9:53 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   Katie

    whatever happened to someone asking nicely if you could please lower your voice? must have become too difficult.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 9:53 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   Clumber

      If you read the additional info there, said librarian was on the phone with an elderly caller. I can’t imagine it is any less rude to walk up to a person on the phone and tell them to lower their voice. I vote “move to a table/chair/desk further away and consider the possibility that the planet doesn’t revolve only for you” option, myself.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.2   pony girl

      I agree with Clumber, wholeheartedly!

      after all, everyone knows that the planet revolves around me

      Jul 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.3   Katie

      in fact, i did read the additional info, but i said they should ask, i didn’t say the person on the phone had to do it.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.4   pony girl

      I don’t interrupt people who are on the phone unless it is some sort of life or death emergency, but maybe that’s just me.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.5   Clumber

      We must have been raised by the same sort of wolves, PG. In my world, interrupting someone on the phone for anything less than “the building is on fire” is the height of rudeness… unless it is your spouse, then of course yelling out things to say to the caller is practically mandatory.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 3:27 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.6   pony girl


      Jul 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   Smedrick

    Do people really need complete silence to read or all library patrons just complete dicks?

    Jul 21, 2011 at 9:54 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   The Elf

      Not complete silence, but quiet is nice. It’s actually why I stopped going to the library. I’d settle down to read and either it would be adults arguing, teens chatting on their phones, or children running around screeching like banshees. Ugh.

      I have such fond memories of browsing the shelves for hours as a kid and discovering all sorts of books! The hard part was trimming my selections down to only five to check out. It was quiet, with just the occassional hushed conversation, the stamp of the book return thingy, and the squeaky wheeled carts. Almost…. reverent. As befits a temple to knowledge.

      But this patron? Probably just a complete dick.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 11:42 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.2   lagne

      ^ This. There are plenty of places in the world where people can chat on their phones, have raucous conversations, yell across the room at each other, listen to music, etc. It would be unrealistic to expect total silence in a library, with so many people there, but it’s not unrealistic to expect people to at least contribute to a study-friendly atmosphere.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.3   pony girl

      @Elf, *big sigh*

      It used to be almost as quiet in bookstores, until they geared bookstores to non-readers.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.4   bobo

      well, i guess you don’t have to worry about those annoyingly loud bookstores!

      Jul 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.5   Rachel

      Being a librarian was GREAT, because it was the only job I’ve ever had where I’ve gotten to tell people to shut up (in much politer words, of course). Anyone who gets told to be quiet in a library gets the funniest look of shame on their face, like this sudden realization of “Oh shit, I’M that person everyone complains about!”

      Jul 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #5.6   Nick

      The loudest place I frequent actually happens to be my library. It’s across from a gigantic mall, so I guess a lot of traffic goes through, but the acoustics seem to amplify the noise a thousand-fold.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 7:01 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #6   Patrick

    Reminds me of a child walking up to me during a sale in the bookstore I work saying “Shh! We’re in a library”. I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 9:59 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   pony girl

      That’s super-duper cute!

      Jul 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   Bets

    Umm…passive aggressive is the definition of Minnesota nice :) I should know, I’ve lived here for 23 years.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 10:29 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   Venus Flytrap Inc.

    Nice. She could have just asked her to be quiet.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 10:31 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   This or That

    That notes looks like it was written on one of those old card catalog index cards with the holes at the bottom. Passive Aggressive towards a librarian AND Disrespecting Dewey Decimal? Someone is about to lose their library card privileges.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 11:05 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.1   Will

      Sadly, that’s all card catalog cards are used for anymore.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.2   Clumber

      Something in me tingles happily to think that all card catalog cards are used for anymore is passive-aggressive notes… I have, since i was a wee elementary child, thought the entire Dewey decimal system was passive-aggressive.

      Man was i disillusioned and ANGRY when I got to college and discovered that institutes of higher learning all use the Library of Congress method instead. THEN WHY THE HELL IS ANYONE USING DEWEY!! I never really got over it… obviously.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.3   A Librarian

      Because the Library of Congress version is designed for the Library of Congress (and other places literally copy it) and ignores lots of subjects and is very confusing to browse through XD

      The Dewey version isn’t perfect but is a billion times cheaper, easier to edit and groups topics together more.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 8:09 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.4   emcd

      Team Dewey Decimal. I was the 5th grader that volunteered to stay after school to shelve the returned books. One of the many highlights was getting to type out the shelf labels for the new books and position it on the dust jacket before placing the whole thing inside of the shiny plastic protector. Good times, good times…

      Jul 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.5   Clumber

      narrows eyes looking at emcd
      My spouse likes to organize bookshelves by dewey… working a summer job at Barnes & Noble about drove her crazy… i had no idea there were others poured from that mold….

      Jul 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.6   emcd

      As implied by A Librarian, I prefer things cheaper, easier and well grouped as well.

      Jul 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.7   Melissa

      How many DECADES will it take to use up all the catalog cards as scratch paper? That started at least 20 years ago in the podunk little town I grew up in.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   Oh Geeeee bang

    I’m one of those people who gets loud in the library and while I know it’s obnoxious I don’t care – for three reasons. One, now a days many libraries are used for purposes other than silent reading such that some noise is expected (kid’s reading hour, meeting rooms for boy scouts, school groups, or even the local town council). Second, many libraries – at least around here – have an area if you really do want silence… if you are not in that area then tough. Finally, libraries are PUBLIC places. If you want silence stay at home. The public is noisy, sorry. Oh, and ear plugs are cheap, for those who need to be at the library and who also seem to need silence, just sayin.

    And the real reason, just so that there is complete honesty, I am a little self centered . . . just a tad.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 11:25 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.1   bookworm

      More than a tad, from the sounds of your post here.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.2   lagne

      Know what’s even cheaper than ear plugs? Being quiet in a library.

      I should stay home if I want quiet? How ’bout you stay home – or go to the mall, or something – if you feel The Louds coming on?

      Jul 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.3   Oh Geeeee bang

      Because I’m not the one attempting to impose my environmental preferences on others. I don’t care if you’re loud, quiet, or whatever – unless I’m in an area that’s been set aside for quiet like a quiet study room or whatever. Libraries are not just quiet reading places anymore (if they ever really were) – they’re used for a variety of functions and anticipating silence is unreasonable. If you need your environment set to your specifications, based on volume, temperature, smell, whatever, don’t go into the public. I’m not saying I’m going to stand over your shoulder screaming or that it should be amusement park loud but groups meet in libraries, study groups, book groups, childrens’ groups, civic organizations and groups of people often get loud.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.4   Nunavut Guy

      You can’t be serious……….you GOTTA be trolling.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.5   lagne

      Right.. which is why libraries often have signs posted asking people to be quiet? Not silent, but QUIET. You are, in fact, imposing your environmental preferences on other people when you willfully bring your noise into the library.

      And obviously you’re proud of that, so I’m closing the laptop now. Self-centered indeed.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.6   Kat

      They see me trollin’…they hatin’….

      Jul 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.7   Rattus

      Are you one of those people who endlessly discuss their personal issues on a cellphone on public transit because, you know, if people don’t want to hear about the details of your hemorrhoid excision should stay home? Well glad to meet ya – tell me more.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.8   The Elf

      You are the one imposing your preferences, as the accepted cultural standard is (or more likely, should be) to be quiet in a library.

      At my library, those groups you describe met in generic study rooms or rooms designated for children’s activities or whatever. At minimum, they were held in the children’s section, which was at the opposite end from the study carrels. When groups met in the library proper, they communicated in hushed tones.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.9   nick

      Oh Geeeeee…… Gee you’re an asshole.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.10   oi

      “unless I’m in an area that’s been set aside for quiet like a quiet study room or whatever”

      Oh. dear. Do you understand the meaning of that statement? or did monkeys wrote that for you? Library IS the designated quiet area!
      I have more to say but happy hour stats in a 3, 2 … where nobody is trying read or study and I am going to be loud.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.11   TippingCows

      From as young as I can remember, libraries were places where people talking in hushed whispers and kept the atmosphere as quiet as possible for fellow patrons. When did this change?

      Jul 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.12   Rachel

      Oh man, you are definitely that person I would have delighted in giving one dark look, one verbal warning, and then kicked your ass out of the library. And ohhhhh it woulda felt so good.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.13   Oh Geeee

      Lol I can’t help but wonder what you people are picturing as the library environment when you write this. If it helps I picture you all uniformly as a crotchety old man snarling at the six year old who runs to their parent giggling and carrying a picture book.
      I have spent a lot of time in two different library settings. The first, at a college or university. At my latest university the library is three floors with the second reserved for quiet study. I hang out on the third. There are arm chairs clustered around tables right before the stacks and large tables for study groups scattered throughout the stacks. Yeah it can get loud. This is where people hang out and study between classes. This is where I am noisiest. I’ve gotten a dirty look or two but the chairs set in social groups encourage talking… It happens. Don’t like it go to the second floor.
      The second library environment I picture was the town library where I grew up. Basically it was two very large rooms. They held presentations. Families brought kids and there was a play ground outside. Kids ran throughout. Teens gathered. It was loud there. If you wanted quiet, tough. Now I take it y’all come from a nicer town that had nicer facilities so that these activities could be segregated – I’m glad.
      Rattus, I’m not one of those people. If you want to hear about my health issues, however, you are welcome to ask. I’m glad that discussion about not judging people too quickly and respect from like a week ago took hold ;-)
      Nick, friend, I’m glad you’re such a devoted library patron that the idea of someone disrespecting one drove you to name calling. But I’ve spent so much time yanking CB’s chain I shouldn’t just let it slide uncommented upon. It’s not nice, that is all.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.14   lagne

      If your library experiences have involved multi-level buildings to accommodate different noise levels, that’s great – that doesn’t mean you have the right to be loud in every library and admonish everyone who has a problem with it to “just stay home.” I still can’t get over how you justify that as “not imposing your environmental preferences on the majority.”

      The two library examples you gave are at opposite ends of the spectrum – from tiny two-room builings to big multi-level buildings. If those make up the majority of your library experience, that’s hardly a place from which to dictate the validity of the majority’s library preferences. You can mentally paint funny faces on the majority all you like, but you do you realize your approach to library etiquette is still in the minority, right? So basically, unless you’re in your two-room library or your multi-floor library, shut up in the library, and don’t bitch at me when I expect you to.

      big reader+perpetual student+big studier = poor library etiquette is a HUGE pet peeve of mine

      Jul 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.15   oi

      Oh Geee: Nah, guys you totally misunderstood me. When I say I behave obnoxiously you guys are suppose to cheer and applaud for me. Wasn’t I cool when I fought with popular guy here? I am just being cool. Now you have gone and laughed at me and called me on my obnoxiousness I am going to try and back pedal stealthy by pretending to laugh at you for not understanding when I said I behave obnoxiously, I don’t really mean that. Ha Ha, so funny! Right? Somebody? Come on at least one person should think I am cool. I fought CB so valiantly. :(
      oi: :roll:
      [In future]
      Oh Gee: Hey I did not say I was being obnoxious, I said, I know that people think I am obnoxious. Neener, Neerner.
      oi: :roll: :roll:

      Jul 22, 2011 at 12:49 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.16   The Elf

      Hey, maybe I am prematurely crotchety in my oh-so-advanced age (mid-thirties), but I remember quiet reigning in both the neighborhood library of my youth and the huge multi-leveled university libraries of my early adulthood. Maybe I just went to a better school, where we had other places to hang out.

      And then I graduated college, got a job in the real world, and moved away. When I went to my new local library for the first time, I got a real shock. This place was set up like my old neighborhood library but there were KIDS running around everywhere. Everywhere! Not just the kids section! I couldn’t stand it. I tried multiple times to like that place, and even tried libraries farther away, but they were all the same horror show. I was too broke to buy books, so I’d try to schedule my library visits for rare weekdays off because the weekend crowd was truly intolerable. Mostly I just read old favorites from my existing collection and borrowed books from my friends and my parents.

      I’m not sure what happened in the 4 years between neighborhood libraries, but it made me give up on the whole concept. In the last few years, I had the occassion to visit the much-beloved library of my youth and found it just as bad. The university libraries are awful now too – lots of noise from phones and multimedia devices.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 5:53 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.17   Oh Geeee

      Bahhh. In the minority opinion, here maybe but in the real world I think not… Based on Elf’s experiences anyway (I’m therefore guessing it’s not just a me thing). Kids playing and enjoying time at a library makes me smile. The library is a community building. Community is loud, whether it’s the kids, teenagers, students, or seniors. Get over it or stay home, ya old fart. :-P

      Jul 22, 2011 at 6:52 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.18   The Elf

      The library was a community place when I was a kid and it was quiet, too. Events were held in adjunct rooms or the children’s section. It’s not an either/or thing, unless the community and library staff has forgotten that it is possible to be both.

      I spent *a lot* of time in that library when I was a kid. Aside from being a bookworm whose parents didn’t go for summer camp and all those other ways to warehouse your kids for the summer, the library had air conditioning. Our house did not. DC summers are unfailingly hot and humid. Spending the hottest part of the day in the library was every bit as much of escapism as the books were! There were lots of events, and I participated in a lot of them. And yet, quiet still reigned.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 7:07 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.19   Rattus

      OG, while I am happy that you are glad that the not judging talk took hold, you yourself claimed to be self-centred, so no judging without info was required. You claim to be self-centred, the actions you like to indulge in appear to be self-centred, and I asked a question – are you one of those self-centred assholes…

      Perhaps you might have spent a bit more time at the university learning to reason rather than annoying people in the library.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 7:09 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.20   GhostWriter bang

      Now I’m wondering why we never have Jamaican pork barbeques in our libraries. Just imagine, you walk up the steps to your local library, and when you open the front door, you are flooded with the sweet smell of barbeque and the ringing tones of a steel drum band. Instead of a big oaken table in the main room, there’s’ a crackling fire with a hog roasting on a spit over it. The librarian could be wearing a grass skirt and might offer you a Bahama Breeze.
      Hey- that’s my idea of “community” so suck it, you educated elite! If you object to my idea of public porkified happiness, well, you just might be a Muslim!

      Jul 22, 2011 at 7:40 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.21   Oh Geeeee bang

      oi – you make a great OG. A few tips, dial up the indignation and throw in a few more smiley faces. You’ll be me in no time.

      GW – we had ice cream socials in our local library and sometimes someone would come in and perform a guitar or give a presentation. I’m all for the pork, I just worry it’s a little expensive :-/ And I might have trouble finding steel drum bands. But the librarian can wear anything she darned well pleases, including a grass skirt. A public library is a public building and if that’s how the public wants to use it, and it will actually get used, that’s all for the better.

      Rattus – the self centered quip was a… oh never mind. My behavior tends to conform to the culture of the environment. Where folks are loudly discussing exciting academic issues, or, as is more likely, the latest super hero movie – I do the same. If I EVER ran into a library where silence reigned supreme I would do the same. It hasn’t happened, but theoretically…

      Jul 22, 2011 at 8:46 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.22   GhostWriter bang

      Double Yeah! That’s the problem I’ve always had with public restrooms; all those so-called “restrictions” on what I am allowed to do in them. Heck, if me and Jerome want to put on a “public” performance in there, why do all the oldsters start complaining, and demand that we act the way they did in the “good old restroom days”? This is 2011, Gramps! Restrooms are modern-day hookup clubs. If ya don’t like it, go shit in the woods!

      Jul 22, 2011 at 9:20 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.23   bookworm

      Kids running and playing on a playground are adorable. Kids running and playing in a library are a nuisance. Context makes all the difference.

      Jul 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.24   Robert

      I guess that makes me the asshole who will walk over to you in the university library and tell you to quiet down as you’re distracting everyone else. I’m also the asshole who will go right to the main desk at the library to complain about the noise on whatever floor you are on if you don’t be quiet. Then I’m the asshole who will go back down to the floor I was studying on and watch the fun unfold when you are kicked out of the library for mistaking it for the student lounge and/or cafeteria most likely contained in another building.

      What you call appropriate is what most people call disrespectful. I am sorry you have had such an awful library experience to have learned this kind of rude behavior as appropriate. It’s not. And if more book nerds like me opened our mouths to complain, you might have learned differently.

      Jul 24, 2011 at 9:03 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.25   Canthz_B bang

      LOL, bookworm said “context”! :lol:

      Jul 25, 2011 at 10:04 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.26   Melissa

      Sounds like “Oh Geeeee” lives in the “Magnited States of America”.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #10.27   TM

      Wow. Most of the rest of us manage to be quiet in the library. What makes you think you’re so effin special?

      Aug 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   [email protected]

    Mmmmm…… Librarian in peach sweater. I’m having Shirley Jones flashbacks.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   thrall

    “Shhhh, put your chair down,” was always the line of our librarian when you rocked back on two legs of the chair–like that made noise. I guess the rare times someone ended up on his @$$ were pretty noisy…

    Jul 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   Nashley

    First Asians saying things like “ching chong ting tong ling long,” now librarians in peach sweaters? Where will it end, Ms. Wallace? Where?

    Jul 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   penny

    because when you are trying to concentrate on something, quiet is preferred.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   Guadalisá

    Why do we whisper in libraries anyway? It’s not because we need to hear what we are doing. We aren’t quiet any other time people are reading, like on the bus, around the table, in class or at work. While I’m at it, why are we quiet on the golf course but not a baseball game? You have to concentrate on hitting that ball too. Why is it rude in one situation but not the other? We are raised to think it’s rude, but who decided it was in the first place? Are we just sheep following the herd? I’ve put way too much thought into this and now my head hurts. I’m going to the library, where it’s quiet!

    Jul 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.1   Clumber

      “Why do we whisper in libraries anyway?” Because Ms. Finch the Librarian in elementary school still scares the holy living shit out of me. Of course she has certainly passed away by now since she was at least 400 years old when I was in 3rd grade… but that only makes her more scary!

      Jul 22, 2011 at 3:31 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #15.2   Melissa

      I AM quiet. Everywhere. Always. There is never any reason to be loud or inconsiderate. Who isn’t quiet when people are reading on the train or in class or at work? ASSHOLES.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   Cari

    I’m a librarian, and I get shushed all the time. It makes you feel awful (I would have felt worse if I got this note!) It’s hard to keep tabs on how loud you’re being when you’re helping people and trying to do your work. We have designated quiet areas, and my desk isn’t in one of them.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   Melissa

      It’s NOT hard, actually. Use your inside voice. What is this world coming to?

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:27 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   jadefirefly

    I love books, and the concept of libraries. I have no problem with the idea of being quiet in a library.

    But that many people in that big a space being that quiet is eerie to me. Gives me the willies.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #17.1   Seanette

      I can’t deal with too quiet a place, so when I go to the library, I find/check out my stuff and bail for home, where I can have music or whatever without disturbing others. Don’t misunderstand me, I love libraries, I just don’t deal well with TOO quiet. My own personal oddity, so I make adjustments so I can meet my own odd needs without being rude or disruptive to others (as best I can).

      That said, did note-writer not even bother to get out of self-centered mode long enough to even consider the possibility the librarian was (gasp) helping ANOTHER patron who happened to have hearing issues, not just deliberately and maliciously making life utter misery for note-writer (aka “center of the universe”, “only one with rights/needs to be considered”, etc.)?

      Jul 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   GhostWriter bang

    …speaking quietly in a library? – Who cares?
    I wanna know whatever happened to Tuesday and so slow…

    Jul 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #19   Angie

    A friend is a “stompy boots and dreadlocks” library director and she is not a “Shush” Librarian, nor does she run a quiet library. There are study rooms if you want quiet. Libraries are much more than books these days. They are community centers.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 6:12 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #19.1   The Elf

      Which is why I started buying books instead of checking them out of the library.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #19.2   Angie

      Hey, I’m all for buying books.

      Jul 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #20   Emily

    I was in my local library last weekend and one of the librarians had a very LOUD LOUD LOUD voice.

    She wasn’t on the phone, she was talking to a patron who was on the other side of her desk who was speaking in a normal low volume voice. I was at the opposite end of the library and I could hear all of her end of the conversation.

    It’s Minnesota, but she didn’t have a peach sweater on that day. I wonder if it’s the same librarian.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #21   Daemon

    Why was this obnoxious patron on the phone anyways? Every library I’ve been in has big signs telling us phones are to be turned off.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 7:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #21.1   Seanette

      Said patron being helped by the “loud” librarian was obviously not physically present, but was probably inquiring about some needed info.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 4:20 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #22   Anonymous

    While I completely understand having to speak loudly to an elderly patron on the phone, library users HAVE gotten too loud since I was younger. When I was a kid, we were shushed if we talked louder than a whisper. Consequently, libraries became almost like churches to me, hallowed ground where you quietly browsed and read.

    Now people use the internet with headphones loud enough for you to identify what song they’re listening to, let their kids run wild and screaming through the place, and talk in loud voices. I realize this just means that the “library culture” is changing, but I still long for the days when a hushed library was the norm.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #23   Lu

    I’m a librarian and I have been shushed as well. I love that there is this stereotype about shushing librarians but the only time I shush is when a patron comes up to me tattling about how loud so and so is and that I should remind them that they are “in a library.” Libraries are not sacred temples of silence. If you want quiet then go to the quiet areas and let me do my job.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #23.1   The Elf

      Are their designated quiet areas in libraries these days? It’s been a decade or so since I’ve spent significant time in a library.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 6:10 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #23.2   GhostWriter bang

      Yes- they are called”rest rooms”.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 7:21 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #23.3   Melissa

      I’m absolutely appalled at the brats running libraries these days.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:31 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #24   Dianne

    The freaky part is that is my maternal gmother’s exact handwriting, and she died in 2005 –

    The soothing part is even as opinionated as she ever was, she was never that much of a crank about it…..

    Jul 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up


    the librarians at my local are far more distracting and noisy than anyone else. just because you spend 8 hours a day in a place, doesn’t mean you should use your comfortably loud voice.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #26   bibberly

    This person would have a hard time in my town – all of our library branches are busy and lively with noise all of the time. Then again, they are only open certain days of the week due to budget cuts, so we all have to go at the same time. However, there are no signs about cell phone use, and no one ever shushes anyone.
    I’ve worked in school libraries (media centers) for the past five years, and the only time it’s ever been quiet is when we are used as a room for student testing (we hate that). Occasionally I have to shout, “Let’s turn the volume in here down a notch!” but that’s about the extent of it.
    In my previous city, there was a librarian who reminded me of that Will Farrell character from SNL who couldn’t moderate his voice. That guy would yell whether he was helping you find a book or telling you it was your turn on the computer, and you could hear him throughout the single-story building. I can’t imagine anyone shushing that guy, although some other librarians told me they were happy to be transferred to a different branch.

    Jul 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #26.1   catherine

      A lot of libraries are having budget cuts because of the loss of patronage. Too many people are too damn loud in the library, and the people who actually support the library with monetary donations (old people with money) are just staying home.

      Jul 22, 2011 at 9:38 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #26.2   Melissa

      I know I might go once a year, tops, and haven’t been for at least two years. What a shame.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #27   Loribl

    I work in a library and I can always tell when someone in our town hasn’t visited our library because they will comment that it must be nice to work somewhere sooo quiet! I always reply that the local Fred Meyer is quieter most days.

    We are extremely busy from open to close and even though we are a two story building, we have noise from both levels. Due to part of our building being a century old and part being less than thirty, we have open areas that carry sound VERY well. I can hear cell phone conversations in the upstairs back corners from my desk down stairs!

    What I want to know is this: Why the HELL are your phone conversations sooooooo important that you can’t have them somewhere else? Other than someone calling a spouse or friend for the title of a book, I have yet to hear a conversation that couldn’t wait. Take the &%$##!! phones OUTSIDE, for God’s sake!

    Jul 22, 2011 at 12:18 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #27.1   GhostWriter bang

      “…the local Fred Meyer”?
      Wasn’t he the milkman on Green Acres?

      Jul 22, 2011 at 7:20 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #28   Rachel

    The submitter says, “So much for Minnesota nice?” Minnesota nice is not truly nice. It is pretending to be nice and not actually being nice. This note is actually a perfect example of Minnesota nice!

    Jul 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #28.1   MnDina

      Lemme guess—are you from Wisconsin?

      Jul 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #29   smartypants

    Actually, I’m tempted to send a similar (but perhaps better worded) note to the employees at my university’s library. I understand they have to have an enormous staff to keep up the place, and that everyone needs an office and that some of these offices are going to end up close to the designated study areas, but do they have to listen to music with their office doors open? When their office is right next to one of the prime study spots? During exam time? And the employees that just stand in the hallways (that echo terribly) and chat about random personal shit are far more annoying than the girl talking on their cell phone (who at least does it in a hushed voice because WE ARE IN A FUCKING LIBRARY).
    I know that working in the library is their job, and they have to be there every day, but I wish they could remember that sometimes students seek out the building not just to use the computers, but because libraries are traditionally quiet places, which are ideal for studying. Sometimes, due to poor roommate selection, it is the only reliably quiet place to study.

    Jul 22, 2011 at 10:09 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #30   Loribl

    @ Ghost Writer–Fred Meyer is a local one stop or almost everything owned by Kroger.

    Jul 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #31   Sweet Pea bang

    It is interesting how many of the comments here are from people who write about what they remember as children or young adults. Even now you people carry your experiences around as a rule to live by for yourselves and others. I find it interesting how that which we learn to be fact or absolute truth as adolescents often guides and defines our moral codes later on in our walks.
    Culture is all about change. If culture did not advance it would die. Any life form that is stagnant will die. So too has time changed the beloved library from holy temple to community playground. Many current libraries have been forced to invite noise into their doors simply to remain open and regenerate the passion they once commanded.
    One other interesting thought that struck me was that all my memories of youth are augmented. I remember objects in large proportion when in real life they are not, I remember crucial events of my past when no one else can even recal the day, and I remember impressions taught into me that have stuck with me to today. Some of these impressions i still continue to fight. . .

    but it’s just a thought……

    Jul 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #31.1   The Elf

      Sure cultures change. And when library culture changed, I changed as well – by not going to the library.

      Jul 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #32   Sweet Pea bang

    perhaps what i was trying to say is by giving up you have given in to the new culture spreading it’s roots and digging in. therefore you have allowed what you have always acknowledged to be “the minority” to become “the majority.”
    i guess the rest of my thoughts didn’t breach the walls either…….. or you just didn’t care.

    Jul 23, 2011 at 11:22 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #32.1   The Elf

      No, I got it. And I agree that the culture change was likely sparked from a need to survive budget cuts – by becoming more about the community and less about the books. But what is the alternative to “giving up”? Should I go to the library and go on a shushing spree? That’s just as obnoxious as the noise.

      I also agree that memories from youth can be distorted. But for all of us to have the same memory of libraries being quieter than they used to be? Seems more legitimately an accurate recollection than just looking at the past through rose-colored glasses.

      Jul 24, 2011 at 8:27 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #32.2   Melissa

      Manners and consideration never go out of style, or rather, shouldn’t have. Nothing to do with evolution, change or progress. This whole thing reminds me of that scene in Fried Green Tomatoes where the young girls steal the parking space any say “Face it, we’re younger and faster.” Fuck all y’all bitches.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #33   matt

    I haven’t gone to a library in years, and I’m glad I haven’t. Why would anyone bother continuing to go to a library when these days you can just download the books you want onto your e-reader/ipad? Libraries are scary places full of dodgy, shifty looking old men and small children.
    I’m amazed how strong most people’s views on here are about libraries; to me most libraries are nothing more than museum pieces.

    Jul 24, 2011 at 7:22 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #33.1   Tea

      Not everyone has an e-reader or Ipad nor are they interested in paying $10-15 for the newest best seller. Sure there are tons of free books available for download but its not the same thing. People want to read “The Help” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” not some 19th century novel.

      I work at a library myself and while it is never silent we do try to maintain a quiet atmosphere. Except for Tuesday afternoons in the summer. That is when our reading club for the school kids meet. It is not uncommon for us to have between 80-100 kids plus their parents and younger siblings in the building. I think last week it was so loud we couldn’t even conduct business over the phone without retreating to the back room.

      Jul 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #33.2   Melissa

      Why, pray tell, isn’t the “reading club” reading? I used to avoid that day, back when I still went to the library.

      I buy used books on Amazon for a few dollars. I don’t like reading from a screen and the library is just not worth the aggravation.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #33.3   Melissa

      It’s true that many homeless, quite often of the mentally-ill variety, hang out at the library. It’s become a big issue. Also, McDonald’s.

      Jul 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #33.4   pony girl

      e-readers are evil

      Jul 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #33.5   Tea

      The Summer Reading Club meets on Tuesdays to get their prizes for independent reading at home and enjoy a presentation. I believe we had a local wildlife group stop by with a few of their animals last week.

      Jul 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #34   Liebchen

    I want to know where these obnoxiously loud libraries are.

    I’ve lived in several different states over the years and been to several different libraries and have never had it where the noise is entirely too loud.

    They are in no way the silent temples where if you blink too loud you’re going to be shushed and frankly I don’t think they should be required to. Unless its a campus library you don’t find that many people anymore using the library to study, so asking a question or two in a normal voice is not going to be that disruptive.

    But that is no reason to be totally obnoxious and be some huge a-hole and let your kids run around the library like a pack of monkeys.
    Be respectful and keep your noise to a respectful volume.

    Jul 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #35   zelmia

    I remember this cartoon by Lynda Barry where she has her character go on a school trip to the local library. Writes Barry: “The first thing you notice when you walk into the library is that horrible smell of having to be quiet…” Still makes me giggle.

    Jul 24, 2011 at 8:23 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #36   Canthz_B bang

    When did the sign change from “FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY” to “LOCAL COFFEE SHOP” again?

    I’m pretty sure there’s a Starbucks within a block or two of any library, hell, of anywhere! Go there for lively discussions.

    Libraries, like large public parks, are supposed to be places where we can find the space to contemplate without distraction. To appreciate the beauty in life, while the ugliness of existence is just outside the door.

    Jul 25, 2011 at 10:16 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #37   redheadwglasses

    I thought libraries were a place to look up dirty words and sex acts in the reference books without parents looking over my shoulder. (Something I did around age 13.)

    Jul 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #38   ringo

    Reading the above just shows the lack of respect that some “people” do NOT have for anyone but themselves, I go to the library a few times a week and with few exceptions the experience is great, librarians speak normally and conduct business professionally and politely, no need to whisper but not loud, people with cell phones ringing or loud conversation are glared at. you want loud, the whole freakin world is loud, leave the libraries quiet, well until the funding shuts down the libraries and we can all go to a bankrupt and closed Borders uhhh nevermind or perhaps shout at through our wireless connection as you try to get the attention of a customer service rep from india…….

    Jul 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #39   Frida

    I gotta say, though, I have lived in three states and I have never heard librarians and patrons talk as loudly as they do in Minnesota. It’s weird, because the “Minnesota Nice” thing is fairly true in most other respects–they just don’t seem to give much of a shit about being quiet in the library.

    Aug 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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