I’m a librarian and I enjoy shushing people. Shutting down somebody who is blathering away on their cell phone at top volume in the Quiet Reading Room is one of the joys of library work. Am I alone in this? Apparently not. When I recently posted my I-love-to-shush confession on my favorite Facebook Librarian Hangout, it quickly earned 82 Likes. As well as 43 comments, both pro and con. How do we librarians really feel about shushing you? Here’s a sampling:
I never hesitate to shush. Indoor voices, please.
Great! Another librarian stereotype perpetuated.
I never shush. Shushing stresses me out.
Shushing is appropriate for people on cell phones. But not when people are having an engaging debate or conversation.
I was helping a patron find a DVD last week and one of the reference librarians shushed ME. I still haven’t gotten over it.
The way one librarian chooses to quiet people has an effect on all librarians, and on our brand. Hopefully we can shush without being mean about it.
I have no need to shush. As a seasoned librarian, I have “the look” down.
I don’t shush. Instead, I perform a little gesture with my arms that signals Keep It Down. That gesture, with a friendly smile, usually does the trick.
Sometimes it helps to point out to the loud mouth that everyone around them can hear their conversation.
I was on my way over to quiet a patron once and before I reached her, she’d managed to announce her credit card information to the entire library. One can only hope that the quiet-loving patrons who were using our computers didn’t immediately go to their favorite online stores and start charging things to her.
I was once talking loudly to a patron who is hard of hearing and another patron, with a furious look, shushed ME. (Was she embarrassed when I explained the situation to her? You bet.)
I only shush if I absolutely must. I see it as a necessary evil, but I don’t enjoy it.
I hate to shush. I do it very politely but I’ve still been sworn at, called a Library Nazi, and worst of all, been totally ignored.
I HATE doing it. I only do it when another patron asks me to.
I consider my ability to shush to be one of my superpowers as a librarian. But I use it sparingly.
Our library is a Shush-Free zone. We aren’t ALLOWED to shush people.
A patron once told ME to “lower my voice an octave.” Still scratching my head about that one.
A woman was talking on her cell yesterday with her speaker on. When I asked her to either wind up or take it outside she said loudly, “I gotta go. The librarian just told me to shut up.” That’s NOT what I said.
I hate to shush. I try to be polite but firm but I’m always worried I come off as being rude.
Sometimes it just has to be done, but it always makes me anxious.
A woman recently sat down at a table in the Quiet Reading Area, pulled out her laptop and proceeded to participate in a back-and-forth that we could hear from across the room. When I asked her to keep the volume down, she hissed, “Don’t you tell me to be quiet. This is a Webinar!”
I could really use a nice big QUIET sign.
I’d prefer a nice big ray gun.
I usually throw a dictionary at them… is that wrong? (Wink.)
Ideally we could lob a book at any patron who ticked us off. THAT would be a fun library to work in. I’d love to stockpile “The Total Idiots Guide To Good Manners” behind the circulation desk for just that purpose.
One of our librarians makes use of a decibel meter app. Our patrons seem to appreciate that approach.
Asking a patron to keep the noise down is fine. But an actual shush? Never.
I never shush. Although I have been known to walk up to a group of loud patrons and say, “Don’t MAKE me shush you!”
I don’t enjoy shushing people. On the other hand, I do appreciate the looks of gratitude I get from other patrons when I quell someone who is being oblivious and obnoxious.
What can we conclude? Library work has changed a lot over the decades, but the library’s value as an oasis of peace and quiet has not. Nor has the librarian’s time-honored ability to shush. Loud in the library? Many of us, it seems, do not relish the task of shutting you down. As for me? Go ahead. Make my day.
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