A few weeks ago, while working near the fireplace at Sedona Public Library, enjoying this quiet space and the views, both outside and inside the picture windows, I was delighted by two young patrons I saw. These boys, probably eight or nine years old, using their polite “inside” voices, seemed to be arguing about the location of something. I remembered that a treasure hunt was on the agenda for the afternoon, led by author and musician Matt Hall, and I realized these boys were on a quest.
One of them looked my way, whispered to the other, then cautiously approached:
“Do you work here?” the brown-haired boy whispered.
“I do,” I whispered back.
He quickly elbowed his friend and whispered, “Told ya!”
“Where is the archeological pillar?” his friend asked.
In an effort not to give away too much, but so happy to help these little guys, I simply said “that direction,” and I pointed across the way. They scurried off, excited to find the pillar that is built with a distinct array of rock types making up the Sedona landscape.
It occurred to me that these boys defy the ongoing arguments and complaints about “kids these days” and how noisy they are, and “libraries these days” and how they have lost their quiet spaces. These boys appeared to be just a couple of nice kids who know how to use, enjoy, and whisper in a library without causing disruptions.
This got me to thinking: why do we believe we must be quiet in a library? 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.”
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. In fact, we have a room dedicated to just such solitude: the Quiet Study.
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 fax paperwork to your lawyer. Yes, moments of commotion are inevitable; it is the modern way. Or, better put, the historical way.
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 consider a substantial renovation project, your input is vital to the planning stage.
Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are grateful for the support of the City of Sedona, Yavapai and Coconino Counties, businesses, foundations, and individuals like you. You can support your public library with a charitable tax-deductible donation. Visit us at 3250 White Bear Road, in Bell Rock Plaza, or online at www.sedonalibrary.org.
Sedona Public Library
Column for August 19, 2016
Written by Anne Marie Mackler, Development Director
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.