When is Shhh! Still Appropriate?

Ok, honestly, I thought I was being as kind as possible: “Excuse me, ma’am, but it’s getting a little loud…”

The woman was having a hard day with her four kids, all below school age and all wired for sound. They were challenging her and eventually, the noise level was challenging us. At what point do you say something?

There are loud days at the library and there are quiet days. On the loud days (usually at the full moon), everyone is a little wild. The teens are up a notch, the adults are questioning their fines a little louder than usual, the cell phones are ringing, and the kids are running.

But yesterday was a quiet day and so, poor mom and her kids were sticking out like a sore thumb. We all toughed it out for about 30 minutes, but then, we figured it was time to say something. Was there a better way to say it? Probably. Rethinking the experience, I would say, “Is there something I can do to help you?” or something like that…

In the end, it went from bad to worse. The mother was offended, gathered her ducklings, and announced to the branch and her kids that they were being asked to leave the library. Not true and yet, she “felt” like she was being asked to leave and that made me feel bad…. for us and for her.

We want our small branch to feel welcoming for everyone. Where is the balance point in today’s library? When is Shhh! still appropriate?



  1. Susan Said:

    Irmgarde –
    Thanks for the e-mail sending us to your blog.
    This is a tough one …… most folks regard us as a community center these days, yet others need to study, etc.
    I have seen Lisa M. handle such situations with aplomb – she’s the best I’ve ever seen, and the offer to help, or giving the kids items to distract worked for her. She definitely has a special way with kids. Maybe we need to bottle her magic!

  2. irmbrown Said:

    We should probably all do some “role playing.”

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