Thank you for the comments.
Generally speaking the library feels an effective way for the nature of quiet to work itself out on the second floor (whether in the Study Zone or otherwise) is for users and the student community to make others aware that their voices carry and can be heard, kindly suggest others to talk more softly and indicate you are being disturbed. Library staff can be contacted at the service for concerns about noise from other groups. Staff will try and do a walk by of the area and assess firsthand – please let library staff know the room number and general location so we know where the noise is coming from. If loud voices persist, continue to report and library staff can speak to the noisy user/s to make them aware others feel they are being too loud. That said, the library can and should only police so much of this issue. It is a joint effort between the library to inform users they are being loud and also responsibility of library users to inform each other of the problem and set the norm. The library generally should not take sides in most cases and can only advise counting on everyone’s patience and politeness to try and keep voices down and noise at a minimum. We cannot control people and their behavior.
If users inform one another politely about noise this can help to establish a norm and shared culture of quiet over time in the library whether on second floor or anywhere. Even though declared a quiet floor, we all know in practical terms that there will be some noise and talking voices around the entire library. There is no high-end special sound proofing material in the Study Zone or anywhere in the library. Rooms large enough to hold more than one, yes in many cases pairs or more will talk. Talking is not prohibited. If voices are bothering you, please consider informing the people that they can be heard. Be nice and see what happens. Library staff can intervene and help too. If for some reason you are unwilling to confront noisy users, that is fine and please report the problem to the service desk. Keep in mind that in some cases by the time staff arrive to check out the noise, it is over and a coin toss whether or not to confront the loud group.
Disposable ear plugs are available from our service desk for free, and I’m noticing many students in the library wear noise canceling headphones and these are options to consider. In many cases of my experience, groups will quiet down or decide to move if confronted with a polite request to be more quiet. Or in some cases individuals wanting more serious pin-drop quiet will have to relocate. It is not a perfect situation by any means but through communication with each other the issue can be brought to light and most people will try and be more quiet if asked. In the case of our advertising messages and signage, we have removed the phrase “whisper quiet” from Study Zone and now message that quiet is the norm and to be aware that voices can carry. Noisy people may not realize their voices are carrying and bothering others; both library users and library staff can engage and make these folks aware.
Please contact me anytime to discuss this matter more. Thank you.
Douglas Stehle, Head of Access Services, firstname.lastname@example.org