|Marc Levin Creative Commons License 2.0|
My desk is behind the circulation area, so I can’t see the main library when I’m at my computer, but I can usually hear what’s happening. At the moment there are 26 students in the library, and it’s not silent, but it’s pretty quiet.
It took me the better half of the year to realize that a quiet library is the preference for most of the students who come here. They have lots of work to do, and the library is quieter and more structured than the cafeteria or the commons area.
How did I come to this realization? I started asking kids why they come to the library, which yes, I know I should have done at the beginning of the year. But when I finally got around to asking, just as many said they were seeking quiet as those who needed to use a computer or other resources.
This preference for quiet was surprising to me. Quiet is not what I'd expect kids to want. Quiet school libraries appear unpopular in professional literature, and it seems that school librarians who help maintain this quiet are deemed out of step.
But it’s our job to provide what our patrons need. And I’ve realized that a quiet library and a welcoming library are not mutually exclusive.
So, yes, I occasionally shush kids in the library. I know. I know. But I also smile at kids, try to call them by name, and ask about their activities, their tests, and their weekends. And when they come back to the library by choice, it’s a pretty good feeling.