Patriot Debate: Silent Library

January 14, 2016

Libraries are supposed to be silent. Or are they? The Patriot debates whether or not the library should implement a silence policy to increase productivity and concentration, or whether it should allow conversation for easier collaboration and studying among students.

Peace and quiet enables productivity

Everyone that’s been to the JC library just laughed and shook their head. Reinstating and enforcing a no-talking policy would allow the library, currently a social battlefield rivaling the ruckus of the cafeteria, to become the place it should be. A library should be a place to dive into books, not into conversation.

JC should be able to provide this sanctuary for students. A student will still be able to work on group projects in empty classrooms, the college center, the senior classroom, and the cafeteria – all places which allow for productive conversation and intellectual stimulation through companionship or a social escape from school.

Tutoring can happen anywhere. I’ve been tutored in Noodles and Company, IHOP, the senior classroom, the cafeteria, guidance counselor offices, the art wing, but I have only once been tutored in the library. Why? Because the environment is not suitable for intellectual growth. The JC library is always dense with people and arguably more social than the cafeteria.

Why, though, should those students who want to make a productive use of their time have to use a library that, at present, rivals an indoor recess? The library’s current atmosphere hinders productivity and encourages bad behavior. A policy enforcing silence would force this atmosphere and the troublesome students that flock to it, or fall into it, to a different location that is better supervised and better suited for this type of social activity.

A silent library would be impressive to people visiting the school for good reason. It shows that a learning environment is being maintained and students are given a diverse set of environments that are necessary to succeed. Supporters of a non-silent library may have too much faith in the students in the classroom or not enough knowledge of the silent communication that is easily enabled through technology when necessary.

Resources such as Khan Academy videos, which require a non-distracting environment to be utilized to their full learning potential that could replace tutoring, would be much more at a student’s disposal if they were given a silent environment in which to learn in peace with headphones.

High school students require a place to not be distracted, and a policy of silence would be a stepping stone to provide that for JC students. To study alone and not be distracted by friends takes a special place, and JC should do its best to accommodate academically-inclined students with this simple sanctuary.

Even in the far reaches of the library, the ruckus is too loud, the people are too social. Segregating such a crowded library into group areas and silent areas would do little to help this environment unless these rooms were removed from the library itself. As of now, there is no apparent sanctuary for students, and no efficiency.

The purpose of a library is to provide an environment where students can learn and get work done without being disturbed. Because students are imperfect, the library cannot achieve this goal unless they are enabled to do so with complete silence, which fosters creativity and productivity.

Joe Kyburz is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and

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Silent library prohibits learning

Libraries are meant to be quiet, but are they meant to be silent? There is a big difference between the words quiet and silent, a difference that caused myself and other students to be kicked out of the library the week prior to exams.

The week before exams, the library became a place of complete silence. The doors were shut and even vague whispers were frowned upon. I know a student who walked into the library and happily greeted Mrs. Welsh, only to be frowned at and angrily shushed.

Other students complained that they were kicked out after trying to study with their friends. In a completely silent library students aren’t able to ask their friends questions, practice with flashcards, receive tutoring or work on group projects.

My friends and I came to the library with flashcards and books in hand in order to help one another prepare for exams, but we were told to be quiet or leave. Our voices were scarcely above that of a whisper, but it was still too loud.

The purpose of a library is to provide an environment where students can learn and get work done without being disturbed. The library cannot achieve this goal if it is completely silent. Students use the library for tutoring, group work and group study purposes, all of which require a minimal level of talking to be allowed.

One might reason that these can all be accomplished elsewhere at JC, but my question is where? There is no place where people can study and do group-work without being distracted. The cafeteria is frequently packed during common off-mods, especially with the new schedule. This makes it hard not only to concentrate but also to find a seat. Besides, in the cafeteria it is easy to become distracted and wind up wasting away your mod by talking to friends and buying food.

There are other alternatives to the cafeteria, but these are haphazard and undependable. Students are sometimes able to do work in the art wing, music wing, or guidance counselor offices, but these places are frequently unavailable or noisy due to classes or meetings. The library must remain a reliable location for students to study and do group work.

Designated areas for group work and silent studying are available, with single desks and large tables populating different sides of the library. The students who desire silence should be as far removed from those who need to talk as possible.

I am not proposing that we allow talking of all levels to occur- that’s what the cafeteria is for. If talking is kept to a reasonable level then both the students who desire silence and those who need to talk are content.

Kelly Foulk is a News Editor for The Patriot and

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