On one hand, I like that the library is a BUSY place: men, women, kids, some old-timers, and all ages between are milling about, searching for the perfect book. I like that our library is welcoming and that books are moving in and out, and above all, being read. In fact, I can hear a youngster reading aloud right now. I hear him loud and clear. And loud. LOUD.
On the other hand, it’s too bad that the formerly revered silence of such a grand place is no more. I miss the whispers and the slightly scary librarian who kept the visitors in check. At least there’s no TV on.... yet. No blinking neon signs. No neighbor dog barking. And if there’s an irritating clock somewhere ticking off the seconds, I can’t hear it. And there’s no deli or even an espresso bar to pull me toward temptations, although I must admit I could go for a glass of Chardonnay right now. It seems like a good pairing with the beeping text notifications. . . .
It seems that along with humanity, libraries and literacy continue to evolve. Books have come in hard back and paperback for a long time. And in large print and Braille. We even have machines that can read books aloud. We have books on tape and graphic novels. Now we have ebooks (choose your own font and layout), and “emotobooks” are all the buzz. They combine text and audio and film. So maybe this is the initial desensitization step—a gradual climate change toward noisier and perhaps flashier books.
As I write, I’m able to block most of these sounds, knowing that none of them pertain to me. And that is why I come here to write. I’m surrounded by the works of the great (and the not-so-great), and I feel inspired by the creativity and passion (not 50 Shades of passion, mind you, but real passion that stirs the soul). And ultimately, a bustling, noisy library is better than a silent one, if it means more people are reading and enjoying books. But I still prefer to turn off my phone.