Library users plead for quiet places to read, write and study — but is anybody listening?
Librarians hate to be depicted as bun- and glasses-wearing shushers, hellbent on silencing any and all noisy activities within their sacred domain. Fair enough: Librarians are highly skilled, well-educated and socially aware as a rule, and should not be reduced to a cultural stereotype. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to be said for that shushing.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center, “Library Services in the Digital Age,” polled a nationally representative sample of what people really want from their libraries.
“Quiet study spaces for adults and children” is considered to be a very important element by 76 percent of the population, only one percentage point less than the value given to computer and Internet access. A relatively silent place to read is almost exactly as valuable to these people as the Internet!
Almost nine in ten blacks (89%) and Hispanics (86%) consider libraries’ quiet study spaces to be “very important” to the community, making them significantly more than whites (71%) to say this. Additionally, women (81%) are more likely than men (70%) to consider this resource “very important,” as are Americans who have not graduated from college (78%) compared with college graduates (69%). Adults ages 50-64 are also somewhat more likely than other age groups to consider quiet study spaces “very important,” although Americans under the age of 50 are most likely to consider these areas important overall.
Those living in urban areas (81%) are also significantly more likely than those living in suburban (73%) or rural (73%) communities to say quiet study spaces are “very important.”
According to the Pew study, quiet matters more to library patrons than special programs for kids or job-search resources or access to fancy databases or classes and events or spaces for public meetings. It matters more to them than the ability to check out e-books or engage in “more interactive learning experiences” — areas that many library experts seem to regard as top priorities for the libraries of the future. More here: http://www.salon.com/2013/01/31/bring_back_shushing_librarians/
You can read more (and download) about the study here:
Via Fe Angela M. Verzosa