The Library Is Not What It Used to Be
All changes are not for the better
There was a time when library shelves were filled with old dusty books. The librarian was an older person, usually a woman who was modestly dressed. If you spoke too loudly she would put a finger to her mouth and tell you "Shhh." I cannot ever remember in my 61 years ever hearing kids shouting and running through a library, that is until now. Libraries today are vastly different than what they used to be. Instead of rows and rows of books on shelves, most libraries today are filled with video games, CDs, video game systems, and DVDs. Unsupervised children run around shouting, play fighting, and having outdoor games such as hide and seek and tag indoors.
Librarians dressed in jeans and T-Shirts pretend they are oblivious to all of this disruption and go about their business without saying a word. In order to have some peace, I have had to on more than one occasion ask the children to please be quiet and tell then they should not run inside the library. They settle down for a moment and then start up again. If the librarians and their parents are not instructing them on proper behavior, then why would they listen to me?
Sadly during the past two summers, whenever I take my grandchildren to various local parks, it is rare to see any other children or teens. This is why I was shocked to see 15-20 young people getting on and off school buses at local stops. Instead of running in the great outdoors in playgrounds and parks, today's children stay in the house on cell phones and video games. Then they disrupt the rights of others by shouting, cursing, running and climbing inside the library where they should be quietly reading books.
In addition to the CDs, DVDs, and video games, some modern libraries have cafes. There are quiet rooms, teen centers, and rooms for meetings. What is missing is the peaceful atmosphere where one could read in silence and everyone barely spoke above a whisper. As an aging baby boomer, I have also observed that I personally do not enjoy many of the books that have been written in later decades. The titles and content of many are what decades ago would have been considered pornography and never been on a library shelf.
It seems as if everyone is rolling with the punches, and I know that things are much different today. I still, however, recall a better time that I long for but know will never return. Recently I was at a local library where a women seated near me sat watching a child who appeared to be under age two. He was shrieking loudly, kicking against something metal and making a lot of noise. She did not pick the child up and offer comfort, neither did she tell him to be quiet, or remove him from whatever was causing the distracting sound.
She just sat there as if it was OK for this little boy to disturb others who had come to the library. Life changes and time marches on, but in my opinion not all change is positive or beneficial. One local library actually has a giant sliding board inside which encourages children to be loud as others are trying to find solitude. Rude, disruptive children, indifferent parents and staff, pornographic material and entertainment centers all have a place. In my opinion it should not be the local library. I am finding that values, decency and respect from writers, library staff and the patrons are being culled along with outdated reading material.