Hello Red Rock News Readers! At any point in my work day, I will get up to stretch my legs and walk the library floor. Just like the precocious boy, Billy, in cartoonist Bill Keane’s Family Circus, I zip through the library, checking to see how things are going in our not-so-quiet-library.
I’m a creature of habit, first I take a stroll past the circulation desk, the main library station where our helpful volunteers are sorting and checking in books to be reshelved or sent on to its next library destination. I then walk past the reference desk station, located by the library patron computers; where staff dutifully help patrons place holds on books or check out library Chromebook laptops or hotspots, all free with your Sedona Library Card.
I zip through the non-fiction section, taking a quick peak at our Teen Area. I’m really proud of what are Teen Area at the Library has become. During the day, our adult patrons are welcome to sit on the comfortable couches to read and study or hold a quick phone conversation but around 2pm we ask them to please use the other areas of the library as it will become a place for teens and tweens, ages 11 to 18.
We truly become a not-so-quiet-library when the teens are here. They conversate, laugh, decompress from their school day, and just get to be teens. Some say “children should be seen and not heard” but I disagree. Children and teens matter just as much as any other patron. They, our young patrons, are the future of the library. Eventually they will grow older, go off to college and perhaps even become parents themselves. Why not now, show them a positive place for them to be themselves and leave a positive impression of what the library can be and is.
My walk about then takes me past our fireplace, where I take a moment to watch the progress as work crews finish on the Library’s new outdoor courtyard. I really am looking forward to see what that space becomes and how our patrons will use it. I then finish my journey through the library with a pass through our fiction section, saying hello to familiar faces, and picking up books that were read but not checked out, and finally coming back to our Tyransaurous head that I have lovingly called Steve, where I check to make sure the bulletin board showcasing any and all library programs is up to date before I head back to my desk to answer emails and schedule any upcoming programs or events.
Why do we believe we must be quiet in a library? Gone are the days of the stern, eagle eyed, cardigan wearing librarian, quick to SHHH you at the mere sound of anything above a whisper. Libraries, in fact, were not historically places of silence and solitude. According to The Christian Science Monitor, they were relatively rowdy places: “The great monastic libraries of medieval Europe, contrary to the popular stereotype, were not silent study halls for cloistered monks. They were noisy places . . . some visitors called them ‘houses of mumblers’ because the monks liked to recite their texts out loud . . . devoted not just to book preservation but to bringing scholars together to work with each other.” In our not-so-quiet library, “SHHH” is a four-letter word.
In the Library, you may very well hear background singing when you visit to read your favorite magazines, or you might overhear a conversation as you email paperwork to your lawyer. Yes, moments of commotion are inevitable; it is the modern way. Or, better put, the historical way.
While so much is written about how tradition has been forsaken by libraries taking on the role of community centers, offering entertainment, education, conversation, and other civic opportunities, maybe the world is actually just coming full circle. At Sedona Public Library, while there is a lineup of daily activities for children and adults alike, there are also beautiful nooks and niches where a quieter atmosphere is available.
If you’re searching for a quiet zone, generally our fireplace area, with ample seating, study nooks, and big tables along with the seating along the windows facing our parking lot are where you can find some quiet respite. The Quiet Study room, located next to the Reference Desk can be used, once a day for up to 2 hours without a reservation. Those needing a longer time to study can make a reservation. Just email me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to walk you through the process. It’s a nominal hourly charge and one of the ways the library raises funds for our operating budget.
We are happy to receive feedback about your experience here, and happy to learn how we can better serve your needs, for quiet or for noise. This is your library, and as we embark on a substantial renovation project, your input is vital to the planning stage.
Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit our website or send your check to Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, Arizona 86336. Remember you can direct your gift to the Village Library. Thank you!
As published in the Red Rock News
Library News Column for September 2, 2022
Written by Jan Marc Quisumbing, Program & Marketing Coordinator