Thursday, 17 May 2012
I am sitting in the library trying to work. Until our internet connection is established at home, this is the only place I can do so. And yet I am struggling, because of the deafening screams of children. Yes, that’s right, in the library.
There is a glass rectangle marked ‘quiet zone’. It looks like some sort of modern art installation or version of a torture chamber where prisoners are contained in the see-through cage with the sun beating down. It is opposite the ‘play area’ and it is not sound-proofed. It is deafening, and my idea of hell.
Inevitably questions arise: Why is there a ‘play area’ in a library? I understand the need to introduce children to the wonderful world of reading and even for the horror that is story-time, but why isn’t this separate, maybe in a windowless basement? Shouldn’t these children (and their parents) also be taught the need to respect others; for their privacy and their desire for silence? To read or study (and this library is next-door to a large college) in peace?
It’s no secret that two of my favourite things in life are books and beer/ wine. It follows, therefore, that two of my favourite activities are reading and drinking, and by logical consequence that two of my favourite locations should be libraries and pubs. Until recently, this was indeed so. Now they are all but ruined by children.
Okay, so I know that people think I don’t like children. This isn’t true. What I dislike intensely is rude and inconsiderate behaviour by people of any age. Children appear to display this more and more frequently with the tacit (and often open) approval of their parents. If you don’t believe me, just try complaining when a child shrieks in your ear as you try to type in the library or runs into you and spills your pint in the pub.
Certain areas should have designated behaviours. I wouldn’t go to a park and be annoyed by children squealing on the swings. Noisy participation is all to be encouraged at a Wiggles concert. Brightly-coloured plastic toys and high-pitched appreciation of rubber food are what I would expect at fast-food outlets. And as far as I’m concerned you can do pretty much whatever you want in your own home.
But please, just stay out of my space. And if we really have to interact in it, can we do so by the rules? Quietly? I’m not alone in this. The poor young woman opposite me, who has been trying to study, has given up and packed up her books to go somewhere more peaceful – the airport, perhaps. She sighed as she departed and wished me good luck, before suggesting I should invest in a pair of headphones if I wanted any silence in the library. Good advice, perhaps, but should I really have to?