Quiet please: A plea for peace in the library

A quiet spot, no way: Theresa Kot says the council should spend money for a community centre and take “socialising” out of the library. Picture: John VeageLIBRARY regular Theresa Kot used to wonder if she was the only person who felt out of place at Kogarah Library.
Nanjing Night Net

But a number of letters to the Leader in recent weeks (see extracts, below) criticising the library’s operations have confirmed her observations.

As is her lifetime habit, she goes in to do some quiet reading or research but can’t find the “quiet” bit anywhere.

“So, you walk into the library — and you ask yourself, am I in the right place?” she said. “The library space provides many more services and social facilities than could be anticipated of a library.

“None of these services and activities bring in an income for the library but the noise and disruptions created with these social activities do disturb the quiet environment sought by those using the library for educational purposes.”

Services on offer at the library include a child-minding or play centre for infants and toddlers coming with their parents and grandparents; commercial private tutorial services for private students; men and women playing board and card games; and socialising by individuals and schoolchildren groups.

Ms Kot said the 10-year-old library was now too small for the needs of the community — the study rooms are always booked — and Kogarah Council should use some of the money it obtained from developer contributions to build a community centre for those activities that do not involve books. Or at least find a way to separate the different uses.

“The two services do not fit well in the same space at the same time,” she said.

“I have been informed repeatedly that the library is a cultural centre and as such it must fulfil the multiple needs for the community.

‘‘And yet, I see that the library has shelves stacked with books and periodicals, and there are computer facilities for library users.’’

Ms Kot, a semi-retired pharmacist, has a few interim suggestions for improved library management:

– Put up signs in the library bringing attention to unacceptable behaviours.

– Remove commercial tutoring activities, child-minding and play-centre activities, social groups playing cards or board games, and people talking on the phone.

– Remove anyone eating and drinking in the library.

– No public address equipment or loud music playing during library hours.

– Better policing by staff.

– Move ‘‘cultural’’ and ‘‘socialising’’ activities to after-hours.

– The council should reinstate the lost art gallery space planned for the building at 79-87 Princes Highway.

COUNCIL COMMENT

‘‘Kogarah Library aims to provide a customer-focused library service that is responsive to the informational, educational, cultural and recreational needs of the local community.

‘‘The library is a welcoming community space providing resources and programs to support literacy and lifelong learning.

‘‘Kogarah Library has over 30,000 members and received over 317,000 visits last year. The library caters to a broad multicultural community and provides a variety of collections, programs and events for all ages.

‘‘The success of the library is evident in the fact that we have a very busy library with all of the events and activities being well attended.’’

There was no reference to Ms Kot’s concerns.

Do you agree with Ms Kot’s views on Kogarah library, or libraries in general? Click on the comment link below to share your view.

Separate spaces – excerpts from letters to the Leader re Kogarah Library:

Libraries used to be quiet places for reading, study and computer use. Today I walk away irritated by these varied, noisy, activities around me. My request to Kogarah Council: give me a library where I can work without constant noisy distractions. Move child-minding and child-play activities for infants and toddlers out of the library. Remove private commercial tutoring services from the library. Provide children with a suitable skate park. Terri Scott

I fully agree with Terri Scott. Most days I make use of the computer service at Kogarah Library, which I am very grateful for. However, many times there are inconsiderate people talking on mobiles, playing YouTube aloud and not on silent, children crowding a single computer chatting and screeching — all totally impervious and uncaring of others wanting a quiet place to do their work — which was what a library used to be.

Many people either don’t know the rules of a library or just don’t care. It’s time for some stringent enforcement to make Kogarah Library an ambient place in which to do one’s work, reading and study. Mark Schofield

I too have spoken to the staff at Kogarah Library over the constant excessive noise. The staff are too scared to ‘‘chat’’ to anyone who might stand up to them. Whatever happened to signage stating ‘‘Quiet, please!’’ in libraries and staff with the guts to enforce it. Joe Gale

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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