The Joy of Quiet in the Library

The library environment can be many things to many people. In 2012, it will be important to off-set the number of active and collaborative spaces with the number of individual spaces for contemplation and quiet.

The “library as place” has a special role to play in our social environment. The amount of communication available can be overwhelming; the average teenager sends or receives 75 text messages a day. The average office worker today enjoys less than three minutes at a time at his or her desk without interruption. The paradox is that we can communicate anywhere anytime.

The library of the future needs to provide spaces for reflection and quiet time something very important for “student success” and learning. The functionality of the library building should always include space to turn-off the communication tools and focus or concentrate. According to “the joy of quiet” – NYTimes Sunday, Jan 1, 2012 – the number of hours American adults spent online doubled between 2005 and 2009 (and the number of hours spent in front of a TV screen, often simultaneously, is also steady increasing). To off-set the constant barrage of information, libraries should be planned with quiet environments. This is not a new idea, but something to consider in the new year.

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