The Quest For Quiet

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“Are you absolutely kidding me?”

I uttered these words more than once on a recent trip to do some quiet research at, of all places, the Library.

Maybe it was the time of day. Maybe it was where I was sitting. Perhaps I was on the wrong floor or on the wrong side of the building. Maybe, just maybe it was me! Whatever the case, I wondered was I in a library or a bus station. People constantly walked by with squeaking shoes, rattling keys and zippers. Loud steps and some failed to even pick up their feet. There were people who were looking for books, of course, but some were just walking around in circles.


The straw that broke the camel’s back was the inordinate number of cell phones that were in use. Ringtones went off constantly and I heard every chime and every top 40 hit that could be downloaded to a phone. What that tells me is that no one planned to come to the library. They just somehow ended up there. Why wouldn’t you silence your phone on your way in. I understand that we forget from time-to-time, but this was a constant onslaught of beeps and tones that destroyed what little concentration I had left. The incessant number of tones and their frequency displayed the selfish disregard for others that permeates our society. During our study, I even got to the point where I filmed someone whose blatant disregard for cell phone etiquette was astounding…

That’s not all, Ladies and Gentlemen. He went so far as to pace through the library while on the phone. By this time, we managed to move into a sound-secured room, but he was actually rather loud outside this area. It was as if he was all alone…

What sent me over the top was the blatant use of phones after they rang. Some people had full-fledged conversations. Finally one young man ( no older that maybe 17 ) who was sitting at the shared table with me went into a full conversation with his girlfriend. How do I know it was his girlfriend? He was so loud and open with his conversation, it was unavoidable. I stood up and began to stare at him until he finally got the point and ended his call. “If you want me in your conversation, I’m coming all the way!”. One man stood between the shelves and had a conversation with his attorney about a copyright. I should have stolen the paperwork in his hands and registered it myself. He practically told everything to those sitting close enough to hear. Why couldn’t these people text. It’s a library for cripes sake!


I have been to football games and racetracks that gave me more room for concentration. I expect there to be noise where there are other people, but this was an affluent area and a rather upscale library. When I was coming up, we were taught to go to extremes to be quiet in the library. I guess that teaching is a thing of the past. I guess I can expect to get more “public” and less “library” in the future.

Maybe next time I want some study time, I will go to the shooting range.

M. E. Cribbs over and out!


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