Noise at the public library? Why, who ever heard of such a thing!
Actually, someone who hasn’t been to a library in several years might not realize the transformation that has been under way in the information science field. And someone who hasn’t been to a library in a metropolitan area really is in for a shock.
Technology has changed the way knowledge is stored and shared, and libraries have been leaders in this new direction. Banks of computers provide library patrons with access to information that a building 100 times the size of a typical library couldn’t hold in print, and it’s information that can be constantly and instantly updated at minimal expense.
Meanwhile, the way many schools and colleges teach their students has been changing too. Libraries — once the place where individual researchers turned page by page through volumes of dusty books and magazines — are centers of learning where teams of students conduct joint projects for class. Verbal interaction is inevitable, and the decibel readings inside library buildings has unavoidably increased. Rather than fighting this trend, many larger libraries have built “quiet rooms,” places where patrons who require silence can still find it.
Usually, though, noise levels at the Brownwood Public Library aren’t that high. But on Thursday mornings for the next several weeks, things will probably be different as the summer reading program continues. Young children are invited to participate, and they will be noisy. Library officials have issued a statement explaining this temporary situation, and urging adult patrons who prefer a quieter setting to plan their visits around the 10 o’clock hour.
Adults who appreciate the value of libraries should also appreciate the efforts the public library is making to interest youngsters in coming to visit. Most churches have figured out that they don’t welcome children now, they might not feel welcome there when they grow up. The same holds true for libraries.