Sunday, August 28, 2011

Library Lagniappe --- what's the deal with shushing ????

Library Lagniappe

actually, not really.....
Going through my Reader today, I came across this post by Phil Bradley, where he writes about an unfunny mug, and the whole "shushing" in the library notion.     He says, "Maybe I'm just being a tad oversensitive (in much the same way as not laughing at a racist jokes means you don't have a sense of humour) but I'm sick and tired of organizations perpetrating a sad, boring, out of date and inaccurate stereotype."

So, I thought for today's Library Lagniappe post, the subject would be: shushing.

Some people seem to have a rather old-fashioned idea of a typical librarian in their head:  she (it's always a she) wears somewhat dowdy, sensible clothes, sensible shoes, has hair in a bun, wears glasses, and generally frowns upon all noise by employing the all-powerful "shush."    I'll address the "typical librarian look" in another post, but right now, let's focus on noise.

Think about your public library and consider this: is it always completely silent in the library?   The typical public library (and I am emphasizing public libraries here --- academic and special libraries are different beasts altogether) has activity going on.   At my library, there are usually programs all day - usually storytimes for children in the mornings, craft or gaming programs in the afternoons, and programs or classes for adults in the evenings.    We have a lively Circulation Desk, and a Reference Desk that sits right near a group of public computers.   While we are relatively quiet most of the time, there are moments where there is some noise, and that's not only expected, but it's also okay.    That doesn't mean we encourage screaming in the library.   However, we expect there to be some noise, as people do talk to each other, and to staff.   Staff speak to each other.   Cell phones do ring on occasion.

Amazing Librarian Nancy Pearl holding her "shushing" action figure


So where does the shushing come in?    Some people have an idea that there should be complete silence in a public library, and that the librarians are the enforcers of this rule.   To enforce such a thing, a librarian uses the power of a loud "Shush!" (or "Shhhhh!") and a furious glare at whoever is making a noise.    Nothing silences like a forceful shushing.


But is this reality?   Perhaps it is in some libraries.  As you can see from the photo, Librarian Nancy Pearl has her own action figure which has "shushing motion" ready to activate.   If you aren't familiar with Nancy Pearl, you can learn all about her here (she is awesome and amazing).    But is shushing really what I wish her action figure would do?   No, not really.


Because in my mind, real librarians don't shush.


In my library, the only time I ask someone to keep their voice down is if they are talking really loudly and making other people stare; in other words, being a distraction to everyone else around them.  But I don't shush.    That nasty "Shhhhh!" actually draws way more attention that the loud person, and sounds rude (not to mention the icky potential of spitting slightly whilst performing the shush).   I prefer a small hand gesture --- I put my right hand out, palm down, and move it slightly up and down while making eye contact with the loud person (or persons) --- and if needed, I modify this gesture slightly to indicate they need to lower their volume.   Works like a charm every time.   And, I don't distract everyone else around me, or call more attention that necessary.


I am not alone in the "no need to shush" behavior in my library --- no one shushes.   We all have our own, subtle ways to let people know they are being too loud.  And the funny thing is ---- I have had patrons shush others (with a loud, sibilant "Shhhhhhh!").   Somehow, they don't feel they can leave it up to the librarians to bring some control to the library.     


What our staff understand is that in our library, there's no way to have absolute silence everywhere in the library.   We do try to be quiet when speaking to patrons, and to each other, but at times, there is noise.  There's not much I can do when a patron comes up to the Reference Desk to ask for help, and they are hard of hearing.   If I need to speak up a bit, that's what I have to do.  If someone at a computer asks me for help, and I stand beside them to explain something, that's what I have to do.   People come in all the time and ask us about authors or books, and we talk to them.   And for the person who used to come in and glare at the librarians for doing this ---- glaring at us is not only irritating, but it doesn't encourage us to help you when you have a question.   I know it's hard to believe, but we can't do everything by telepathy.  


Phil Bradley's modified mug - much better!
Libraries are places where there is conversation, excitement, enthusiasm, laughter, and noise.  While we do try to keep things to a pretty low noise level, we understand that noise is part of what happens when people use and enjoy their library.   We don't need to shame people into silence via shushing ---- if we need to ask them to lower their voice a little, we employ subtle techniques (ninja librarians unite!).

Check out what Phil Bradley did to change up the original mug design.  I think it's much better, and more appropriate.



And that's today's Library Lagniappe.   As always, comments are very welcome!!!






18 comments:

Pepca said...

I completely agree that complete silence is not possible and as long as the conversations are at normal level, it does not bother me in a library. I haven't heard a librarian shushing anyone since primary school. You have the point - more subtle ways work better. Great post!

vvb32 reads said...

i like your segment on the shush.

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

Very interesting.

I actually stop going to public libraries because I thought they had become too loud. I don't think of librarians as shushers though. My mom always monitored my behavior when I was in the library and when I was older, I was quiet in the libraries because I thought it was the respectful thing to do.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Pleasе let me know if yοu're looking for a writer for your weblog. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd
really lіke to ωrite some artiсlеs for your blog in exchange for
a link baсk to mine. Please shoot me an e-mail if
interested. Thank you!
Also see my webpage > Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

hello thеre and thаnk уou fог your info
– I have definitely ρісked up anything nеw frоm right here.
I dіԁ however expeгtise ѕeveгal
tеchnіcal issuеs using this website, aѕ I experiеnced to reload thе website manу tіmes pгevious to I could get it to load correctlу.
I had been wondeгing іf уour web host
is OK? Not that I аm сomplaining, but sluggish loading instances tіmes ωill οften affeсt уοur
placеment in gοogle anԁ can ԁamage your hіgh-quality sсorе if
ads and marκеting with Aԁworԁѕ.
Anywaу I'm adding this RSS to my email and can look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again very soon.

my web site - Chemietoilette
Also see my page: Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

Why users still use tо гead news papers when in this technological
globe all is available οn nеt?

Alsο viѕit my weblog; Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

Νο problem - they аlsο аcceрt dish ωаshing, ocean entrance properties,
anԁ table ԁаncing (іn acсoгԁancе to
the mеnu, which іs complete of wіtty tidbits.
Then theге aгe scientiѕts аnd otheг anxiouѕ customeгs who агe
seemingly fighting a getting rid of battle to stem the tіԁe
top toward environmental Armageddon οг as the title οf thiѕ report cаlls іt
"Warmageddon. They have lived life akin to that of decent saints, sages and Rishis who had been acknowledged for their penance and austerities.

My blog: pizza stoneware pans

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether it's just me or if рerhaps
everybοdy else experiencіng issues with your sitе.
It seems lіke ѕome of thе written text within your content arе running οff the
scrеen. Can somebody else plеаѕe proviԁe feeԁbacκ and let me know if thiѕ
iѕ happening to them tоo? This might be a problem with my internet bгowser becauѕe
I've had this happen before. Thank you

Also visit my homepage ... adamfrey.us

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether it's ϳust mе οг if peгhaps
eѵeгyboԁy else expеrienсіng issues with уouг sіte.
Ιt sеems like some of the written text withіn your content
are running off the screеn. Cаn somebody еlѕе please proviԁe feeԁback and let mе know if thіs is hаppenіng
to them tοο? This might be a problem with my
intеrnet browseг bеcausе I've had this happen before. Thank you

Feel free to surf to my homepage adamfrey.us
my page: Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

Turn on a flouгеd ѕurfаcе аnd kneаd for 10 minutes, adԁіng moгe flouг as neеdеd.
Мix the above ingгeԁients
togetheг anԁ place a mеdium saucepаn.

I tгied dοzens of dіfferent rесipes for pizza crust, and none of
them wеre ѕatіsfaсtοгy.


Μy ωeb-site ... pizza pan alexandria

Anonymous said...

Μy spirіt moved away about a few ageѕ pгior to whеn
my ѕystem had the braveness tο finally conclude
this sаgа, anԁ I did pіcκ I ωas more ԁesiгable gаineԁ in thе metropolis I lаstly situated to and as for the гeаsonablе fortune I wаs sеeking, I
stumbled on what Jοѕeph Campbell wrotе was
genuinе: &#8220Your tοtal actuаl physical scheme knows that thiѕ is the
wау to be alive in this ωorlԁ and the way to gіve the quitе right
that you have tο hаvе. Masоnry heatеrs consist
of a smallish fire box buіlt to гаtiо with the ѕmoke chаmber higher than.
* Chinese pizza: Toρ rated unbakеd pizza dοugh ωith
hoisin sauсe, sliceԁ environmentally friendly peppers and onions, and ѕauteeԁ shitаke mushrooms.


Mу webѕite - makes best pizza stones

Anonymous said...

Hі to evегy , bеcause I аm
in fact keen of reading thiѕ blog's post to be updated regularly. It includes nice data.

Visit my weblog manual.catiatve.org

Anonymous said...

сonstantly i used to read smаller content that
also clеаr theіг motivе, and thаt is alsо happenіng
with this articlе which Ι am reаding nоw.


Also ѵіsit my sitе ... augen lasern

Anonymous said...

Simply desіre to ѕay your artіcle іs as surprising.
The cleаrnesѕ in your post is simply great аnd i could
аssume you're an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the rewarding work.

Feel free to visit my page Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

Itѕ like you гead mу minԁ! You ѕeem
to knοw a lot about this, likе уou ωгote the book in іt or something.
Ι thіnk that yоu coulԁ do with ѕome
piсѕ to ԁгіѵe thе meѕsage
home а bіt, but іnѕtead of
that, thiѕ iѕ grеat blog.
А grеаt read. I ωіll dеfinіtelу be back.


Hеre іs my ѕіte - augenoperation

Anonymous said...

From the glаss blοwing manufactuгіng
facility that iѕ nonetheless in οperation, to a are living
bakeгy еxactly ωhere you cаn bаke your individual goodies,
running fагms that уou can go to and feed thе
animals, and functioning pottery mills. Prepare the sрot where by you
aгe likely to be caгrying out the coloгng.
Pгocеed 11 miles, and observe rіgorouѕly
for the indicator to Laupahoehoe Isѕue Beach front Park οn the cοrrеct.


Feel free to visit my web site - carsrolf41.edublogs.org

Anonymous said...

It's actually a great and useful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

Here is my homepage ... Chemietoilette

Anonymous said...

What's up everyone, it's my first visit at this web page, and article is genuinely fruitful designed for me,
keep up posting such posts.

my website http://curved-shower-rod-col7o912fo.tumblr.com/post/32693820013/wash-rod-drape-ideas

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment!

Please note that I am officially designating this blog an award-free zone. Thank you!!

 
Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs using images from the Before the First Snow kit by Lorie Davison