Saturday, November 20, 2010

Listening In the Library

By Alex Haworth

I learned that at the library being "Quiet" is completely optional.

The building itself makes plenty of noise:

Some of the natural things in the library are loud (the doors and the A/C frequently creak and hum).
Even though it's surrounded by bricks and solid wood I could still hear the toilets flushing in the bathroom down the hall.
When someone checks something out, a little scanner makes a "Bip" sound.

People make sounds too:

Whenever someone would walk by, their pant legs would rub against each other.
I think everyone in there coughed at least once, no surprise though, everyone does it and lots of people seem to have colds. And then there are the "Talkers", the people who just can't help it. They will talk quietly, loudly and even try and just make sounds to get someone's attention.

Things you don't expect to make sounds, make sounds:

A popular one is a book-bag. Anything on that can be noisy. You can jingle the zippers, rub the straps and have the contents shake.
Shoes are interesting because everyone has a different style and walk, so no pair ever sounds the same.
Also the computers make noise; not the monitors, but the key pads. They are constantly making a clickety-clack, clackety-click sound.

I heard a metal cart go by, and if that wasn't loud enough, it was a bit rusty.
Also someone was fooling with a food wrapper somewhere that was making plenty of noise.
With all the lockers at school everyone is carrying at least two keys, and all it takes are two keys to be heard from the other side of the room.

And of course I had set an alarm to tell me when my 30 min was up, so that was a great big shock when it was the wrong ring and echoed through the quiet library.

I was surprised to not once hear the sound of someone flipping through the pages of a book.

And so I think the library might be one of the most subtly loud places we have made; quiet enough so we never notice how loud it can be.