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To read or not to read

If you wanted to read in peace or to study in silence, you could head to the local library to sink into a chair and lose yourself in a book. If you preferred, you could grab the Sydney Morning Herald or the Australian and spread it out on one of the tables, to read to your heart’s content.

If by chance, you needed a drink, by all means, slip out the door and buy yourself a drink, but make sure, you finish it, and that bag of chips/crisps BEFORE you re-enter the hallowed sanctum. This is after all, THE LIBRARY, where one goes to silently select novels, academic or reference tomes, fiction or non-fiction books, children’s’ books, plays and magazines, to read, enjoy and learn. Audio books, CDs and DVDs and even video tapes of operas, musical dramas and stage musicals can be borrowed to view or listen to at your leisure.

Libraries on the whole however, are usually a haven of peace and solitude, where voices are hushed and, respect and consideration is given to fellow readers and researchers.

At least that is what they used to be! Walk into my local library at any given day, TODAY, and you will be greeted not only by an audible babble of voices, but you will see students having animated discussions aloud, while openly eating candy bars, savoury snacks, fruit, meals from take away containers or home cooked meals nestled in carriers, water, soft drinks or coffee and tea. And of course, the ring tones of the ever-present mobiles, not yet surgically attached to their hands, go off at intervals around the room.

The only rule that has remained unchanged, is the non-smoking regulation as the law prohibits smoking indoors and in designated public, outdoor areas.

On politely questioning the relaxed rules of eating and talking in the library, the librarian replied that students needed nourishment for their growing bodies and hence, they were allowed to bring and partake of their meals in the library. And as for ‘talking in the library,’ she smiled and stated that their ‘murmurings’ were no louder than usual.

Perhaps the adage of ‘children being seen and not heard,’ has some merit!

Call me old-fashioned, call me a tartar, call me a spoil-sport but the fact remains, this last bastion of book-learning is a sacred haven for lovers of books and students of academic pursuits, and should always be a place for them to retreat to without having to succumb to the everyday life of the school yard or the food-court. After all, we still hold sacred and respect the sanctum of cathedrals, temples, the exchanges of vows, the swearing of oaths, the beauty of places, and do so with hushed reverence. So it should be with our libraries!

All is not lost fortunately! The best times to visit the library is during school hours when the noise-makers are generally ensconced in their respective schools.

Has your public library adopted similar measures as my local library? I would be interested to hear.

© Wendy Robinson

Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark … in any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.  ~ Germaine Greer

A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times, and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.  ~ E.B. White


Comments on: "To read or not to read" (4)

  1. Wendy, I agree – I only go to the State Library these days and it is still reasonably quiet.


  2. Hi Peter, I visited the State Library quite often when I was studying. I wonder if in the end, patrons will have to request ‘quiet’ rooms akin to train travellers electing to use the ‘quiet’ carriages. By the way, thank you again for reading my posts. 🙂


  3. Ditto!


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