Infomancy n. 1.The field of magic related to the conjuring of information from the chaos of the universe. 2.The collection of terms, queries, and actions related to the retrieval of information from arcane sources.

Library Fail

August 15th, 2008 by infomancy

Gen Con has been wonderful. It was very interesting to walk around the floor and see all the game exhibits as well as all the creative costumes. Cosplay at ALA next year anyone? After the hubbub and craziness of the exhibit hall, however, my wife and I decided to retreat across the street to the hotel where they had an anime and manga area complete with screening rooms for new movies and a manga library for browsing.

Imagine our surprise, however, when we entered the manga library to be welcomed with this sign that fails on so many levels. Leaving aside the quite horrific fail, we still have to deal with the unfortunate fact that this sign maker’s perception of libraries is that they are mainly quiet. What made this more sad was that the day before I had been one floor up in the same hotel talking about the fact that libraries are not just about being quiet anymore. That we have learned to change and meet user expectations; that we have adopted gaming and the idea of having a YA friendly social space. And then there was the sign.

Couldn’t it have just said “Quiet Atmosphere” or “Respect the Readers” or “Be Noisy Elsewhere” or (since this is Gen Con) “Stealth Check Required: Roll a 21 on 1d20 to be allowed to make noise.” Go forth and destroy dated stereotypes!

2 Responses to “Library Fail”

  1. Bob Santella Says:

    Chris public perception of libraries and librarians will not change until as a profession we change ourselves. The author of that sign was undoubtedly a student at a school with what is perceived as a traditional library with a traditional shhhing librarian.

    How many times have we heard colleagues bragging about the number of students they allow in media center from study hall, or comments like unless they have class work, they can stay in study hall? How many of us have rules posted like only two students to a table or no games on library computers? I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen story time started with a good hearted shh or “ok lets settle down”.

    If we use these types of actions with the littlest librarian patrons, how are they to think anything but silence is the norm? While we are not the Café or the playground our patrons should not be sworn to a vow of silence to enter our realm.

    What we need to do is to gently remind students that we are inside and that there may be others trying to work or read. We also need to teach those that may be working nearby, that life does not stop for anyone and that there may be time that they will have to work in less than silent surroundings. It can be a school to work lesson. How many jobs come with the expectation of silence in the workplace?

  2. Bob Hassett Says:

    Hi, Chris. Sorry I’m a bit late on the uptake here — I’ve been running around trying to get ready to open — kids come back on Tuesday.

    Last week we had 120 rising 7th graders come through during a “How to Survive Middle School” summer institute. They come to us from about 6 different elementary schools, so I told every group, “I’m sure all of your elementary school librarians had their own rules and that’s up to them. But this is our library and I want you to know that when you’re here, I don’t expect you to be silent. I don’t even expect you to be quiet. I just ask that you respect the others who happen to be here and don’t prevent them from doing the things they’re trying to do.”

    Every time I said it there was a quiet rumble of chatter. Wow, a place in school where they treat you like real people. What a concept!