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Library Protocol

I've spent a large portion of my summer working in the libraries. I've been working in lots of the different libraries on campus, but most of them have been rather noisy this summer. I've put up with floor polishers, vacuum cleaners, several tour groups, drilling, and hammering. I've also put up with shelvers chattering away to each other on a number of occasions. Sometimes it's been really irritating, especially the floor polishing device. But each time I thought, yes, it's a library, but these tasks need to be done, the workers are probably bored enough without the conversation, and they logic that in the summer, they'll be disturbing fewer people than during the school year.

Yesterday, I ran into a whole sequence of medievalists among the stacks at the main library on campus. While talking in a low voice to one of them, a library worker reshelving books came over and asked us to be quiet since even quiet voices carry far. After all I'd put up with this summer, it rankled a little bit, but it was fair. I was in a library after all, meant to be a place of quiet study.

Today I was back in the same library, and none other than the woman who had shushed me yesterday was busy working there too. Only this time, she was working with someone else, and they were talking in normal tones of voice as they wandered back and forth past me, chatting away. And this time, it made be really irritated, since only yesterday this very same woman had asked me to be quiet for the same offense. Although annoyed, annoyed more for the hypocrisy of the situation than the actual offense, the same logic floating through my head all summer still seemed to apply. She needed to talk to her co-worker to do her work. And so I said nothing. After all, if she remembered me from yesterday, she might take it as a vindictive act.

Should I have asked her to be quiet? Should I have been asking everyone all summer to be quiet? Personally, I'd like to feel I can have the odd quiet conversation in a library when I run into a friend. But neither would it have been appropriate (I suspect), much as it was the loudest thing in my summer of loud libraries, to have asked the floor polisher to do it some other time.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
hilly02
Aug. 8th, 2003 02:59 am (UTC)
but that's just me....
personally, i would have told her to 'shut her fat ass up', but I suppose that's just me.

Also, when asked to be quiet, I would have given her a scathing look, then told her to go polish the floors.
owlfish
Aug. 8th, 2003 05:32 am (UTC)
Re: but that's just me....
You have more of a backbone than I do. Of course, if she'd actually gone and polished the floors, I know from experience that the floor polishing machine the library uses is many decibels louder than anything else I've heard in the libraries.
hilly02
Aug. 8th, 2003 05:34 am (UTC)
Re: but that's just me....
I should be thankful that the John Rylands Library at Manchester has carpeted floors.

And it's not backbone I have. I think it would be classified somewhere along the lines of "BIG FAT MOUTH".
crustycurmudgeo
Aug. 8th, 2003 09:11 am (UTC)
Hide behind some other stacks and go "SHUSH" very loudly. Then move to another area before they can find you.
owlfish
Aug. 8th, 2003 07:17 pm (UTC)
Alas, the floor is vinyl and it's easy to hear footsteps. Plus, it's easy to see through shelves, so it's hard to be too obscure. Still, if I wear quiet shoes and move quickly... of course, if I were unlucky, I'd go to all that effort and the person in question would somehow miss my hint entirely.

But thanks for the advice!
lazyknight
Aug. 11th, 2003 05:22 am (UTC)
Hmm... I'd probably either have ignored it or gone up to them with "I'm terribly sorry, but I'm really trying to concentrate on something and, as you said yesterday, even quiet voices carry quite a way."
owlfish
Aug. 11th, 2003 05:37 am (UTC)
That would've been a good way to put it. Tactful, yet acknowleging what she had said. There's a chance I'll even be able to try this out in the next week or three, since I'm not done working this particular job yet.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )