Tuesday, December 19, 2017

To Shush Or Not To Shush, Revisited: Or, The Revenge of the Shusher

I loved that idea, but haven't had a chance to revisit anything because stuff keeps coming up. However, in the lull between semesters and in between outrageous legislation, I decided to revisit the idea of whether or not shushing people in the library is a good idea.

I have to admit that my advice isn't terribly different, but I do have more specific advice to give than I did in my original post.

1. I try to gauge my reaction based on others. I'm hyper aware of noise around me, for whatever reason, and am especially hypersensitive to noise in the library. If something is bothering me, but nobody else seems fussed, I let it go. On the other hand, if I see annoyed expressions from students in the library, I go into action.

2. I work to make sure that people have different kinds of spaces in my library, if possible. Study rooms are ideal, but designating one part of the library for noise can also help keep things quiet. If all else fails, and the library is too small for those kinds of distinctions, making ear plugs available can help so much.

3. I keep the community served by my library and the time of semester/year in mind. Everything I'm writing here is down to the academic library thing. Like the fact that at the beginning of the semester, it is going to be loud. It just is. If it's during break, noise might be more noticeable but it's also less worrisome. During mid-terms and exams, though, when stress is running high...? I'm ruthless.

4. I try to be mindful of the shushing stereotype, but sometimes it can't be helped. Instead, I play into it for the humor of the situation. I remember telling a group of football players, at a previous job, "hey, don't make me be a stereotype and have to shush you." That worked for a while! Later that week I had to pull out the big guns - "don't make me tell your coach about this." Actually, humor is always a good method to get college students to be more considerate of other library patrons.

5. I don't take it personally when things get loud in the library. I mean, how can I take it personally when it's high stress making people act out? Or when a member of the staff laughs so loudly because they forgot for a second where they were? It's not meant as a personal attack, so I try to be kind and see it from the loud person's perspective.

The approach has worked for me for years now. I've even been thanked by students for reminding noisy people that it's exams and people are stressed. It's a careful balance of letting things roll off while still paying attention, but it has been worth it.

What about you? How do you approach noise in the library?

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