"Shhhhhhh!! Quiet . . . Please?"

She’s calling out to a friend she sees in the distance, who is flipping the pages of some magazine, standing by the magazine racks. Above the magazines, a few flat panel monitors are playing some videos. A couple of feet away from her friend, a young man is looking for something on a computer monitor. His mobile in his jeans rings in 40-chord polyphonic ring tones. He’s now answering it, speaking in his normal voice - loudly. He stops tapping on a keyboard, and is walking over to the check out counter, whatever he has picked out now under his arms.

No, this is not a scene in a supermarket. There is nothing very unusual above that scene, or about the people in it. Except for the amplitude of the sounds – or noises, depending on the effect they have on one. No one is whispering – and this is, after all, a library.

This scene is being played out, Monday to Saturday, in the hippest library in town. The sound decibel increases with the hour, the loudest being after 5, when its members have left their offices after work. Some are parents who have picked up their children from school, and have let them loose in the children’s section, running around and making a ruckus.

This is a far cry from those libraries where these people would have been reprimanded in a stage whisper, with a stern demeanor and a stiff digit upright, pressed against the librarian’s pursed lips. Today’s libraries are no more those musty and quiet places where young people are only there because their parents have brought them along, or they have to gather research material for some college or school assignment. And the old people are there because there have been retired and don’t want to remain at home with nothing to do the entire day.

And yes, there is another thing. There is a pervading smell – of strong coffee brewing, coming from an expresso machine, just a partition away from the check out counter. I particularly love coffee, and this smell lends an odd comfort when I am wandering around the book shelves, leaning my head over to read the spines of books. After I have handed over my selections to the librarian - who would never dream of shushing me up if I asked in my normal non-whispering voice if that so-and-so DVD is available for borrowing yet - to date-stamp and then swipe the books' spines over a machine, I make for the entrance, to leave. But before I walk through the sliding glass doors, I stop to see if any of the new CDs, their covers displaying inside a glass case, interest me. I press some buttons on a machine just like those you find in some big music stores, for listening to the latest CDs on sale, to test out some tracks.

I’m at home now, with my books from the library. Can you guess which library I have been talking about?

2 comments:

  1. bibliobibuli says

    I might just know the answer :-D


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