Day 9 Silence, silence everywhere. Not a sound to be heard.

I have a very limited knowledge of academic libraries, this being my first time back stage so to speak so I may be making vast generalisations here. If you have more experience I would really like to know your opinions as I have found it to be quite an isolating place and worry that the people who work here may also have that experience. People have been very friendly and welcoming and I realise that I am creating more work and they have their jobs to do but it is so quiet.

As a teacher librarian I spend all day in a busy, often noisy environment where I have to communicate constantly with children and colleagues. Our library often has 2 classes of 30, other teachers and parents, and so it is rarely silent and often buzzing. I don’t want it to be a silent place. It is a place of learning and I expect our children to collaborate and communicate. They need to be mindful of others needs but it is not an academic library so the environment here is going to be different.

The expectation here is that everyone works quietly/silently unless they have booked a studyroom where they can work as a group and build understanding through discussions. That is what I expected. It is certainly very busy but what I think has surprised me is that I think you could work here all week and come into very little contact with the patrons. Yes the assistant librarians have to take turns on the information desk but many others in the work force are physically very removed from the users. Does that matter? Are they still capable of fulfilling the needs of users? Do they remain motived and passionate about their job? I don’t know. Maybe it is no different to a shop. The shop manager very rarely appears on the shopfloor. When they do it is usually to check things are running well… is this how it works in the library?

Much of the day in the Information, the Aquistions and the Media Sections are spent in front of a computer in a very quiet office. (Many without windows.) Everyone, I suppose quiet rightly, is focused on the work they have to do and is getting on with it but the silence of the library spills into the offices. In the Information Section this is because it is partially open to the library but the other areas I visited where just as quiet. I thought there might have been a bit of chat between coworkers but there appears not to be. I do realise that I am working in a place where English is not a first language for many people and may be missing out on some of these conversations, I might have even changed the dynamics of the office, but it is so damn quiet!

Is this always the case? Can anyone shed any light? Is it a lonely job? And where does the motivation come from? I’m not sure I could do it. Then again not everyone would like 60 children collaborating and talking, making a mess of the shelves and enjoying themselves.

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