I remember when libraries were places of quiet contemplation, a place where people could go and peruse the stacks, pick out a good book and sit in quiet or collect their thoughts and study, leaving behind the hubbub of the outside world. Here in Ottawa, though, the library system seems to have become preoccupied with remaining "relevant", with the result being that it tries to be everything to everyone: a gaming centre, a place for teens to socialize, a place for kids to play as though at a park, an internet café.
At my local branch of the library, Greenboro District, the din at any given time of the day is deafening at worst and distracting at best. Long gone are the days where merely clearing your throat would earn a sharp rebuke from the librarian. Open season seems to reign with little in the way of noise constraints, kids running among the stacks, groups of people congregating to talk on the stairs and in the stacks, phone conversations, raucus game playing on the computers and little in the way of even basic courtesy for fellow patrons. I shouldn't complain, they do have a quite room tucked away in a dingy airless corner of the second floor for those of us who crave a little peace.
I guess I am just hopelessly old fashioned. I do wonder, though, if in the library's eagerness to attract a younger crowd, which admittedly does seem to be working, it is alienating the old fogey demographic like me who now just dart in and out as quickly as possible to pick up a book or two. We no longer seem to be welcome.