To shush or not to shush …. that is the question?

Shh--Daily Image 2011--April 2

Today is the first day of our secondary schools here in New Zealand being senior-less after the antics and hi-jinks of yesterday’s final day of classes for our Year 11-13 students.  Of course, those of us in the school library know that we’re really not senior-less at all.  In fact, here at Hargest anyway, we find that they make their way here in droves every day.  Ostensibly they’re here to study for their NCEA exams, but often it’s for various other reasons, some of them with a strongly social agenda indeed.

Now, I’m no party-pooper but invariably this is the time of the year where the two sides of my personality do battle.  The Senga on my left shoulder says:

“They’re all good.  It doesn’t matter if there’s lots of excited chatter, frivolity and laughter out there.  The library is a social space and should be able to be used as such.” while the Senga on my right shoulder is frowning and shaking her head:

“What about the serious students who have come here to actually study?  Don’t they have a right to some peace and quiet? Should they have to combat the constant distraction of their more social peers discussing their plans for Friday night or what dress they’re wearing to the Year 13 leavers dinner?”

And of course, lets not forget the junior classes that are still booking in to work in the library.

So I’ve decided to let you, my fellow librarians, sway me in the direction you think I need to go.

To shush or not to shush …. that is the question.  Or should it even be a question?

What do you do in your library?  Please help me reconcile the two distinct and at-the-moment warring sides to my personality.  Have your say on my little poll

And if you feel strongly enough, leave me a comment as well, explaining your position.

Like something out of a Dystopian novel

I’ve got my dander up this morning.

Those of you who know me will testify to the fact that I can be garrulous and a bit feisty but I normally attempt to keep myself under control – just.

But I’ve just become incensed this morning after reading this article in the Guardian entitled: Kensal Rise library stripped in night of books and Twain plaque. (Thanks to Val McDermid for tweeting it and drawing it to mine and Twitterland’s attention).

So sneaking into a local public library and stripping it bare of books, artworks, furniture at 02.30 in the morning has now become standard practice? What has it come to in the democratic world when this sort of behaviour is considered acceptable!?  Do our voices no longer count? Has the push to save money finally crashed over the public’s right to demonstrate and have a say in their local government issues?

I shall pause for a deep, cleansing breath ….

Nope, that didn’t help.  It still seems totally ridiculous behaviour.  Obviously the “they can’t put it back once we’ve destroyed it” premise is at play here.  It’s these types of things that make you feel helpless in the face of the government “Big Brother” mentality.  Heaven help us if this type of policy and it’s implementation was to ever reach NZ shores!  It just doesn’t bear thinking about. 

So I say, people everywhere, love your libraries, treasure them and at every opportunity tell the people who fund them (yes, you elect them!!) how much you want and value them! Don’t make the mistake of being passive about it, or assuming this could never happen here. It would seem this should never be taken for granted in case you end up like the library users at Kensal Rise – libraryless.

Are You Up For the 30 Day Challenge?

Normally I use this blog space to make comment on my own library practice, or good ideas I come across, or share my thoughts on the library profession in general, but in this post I want to invite you to be inspired to do something new, different, challenging, daunting, fun or important in 30 days.  And yes, that might take the shape of something to do with libraries!

I have personal reasons for recommending the new blog culturaleutopia to you, but if nothing else, if it doesn’t inspire you to take your own 30 day challenge, you’ll enjoy the stream-of-consciousness writing that you’ll find here.  It will make you smile, make you grimace, make you roll your eyes or shake your head, or just make you think.  Hopefully it will also make you take action.