on places of quiet contemplation and pissing contests …

'Zen Garden' photo (c) 2006, Sheila Thomson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Libraries are wonderful places of quiet contemplation …

To my mind this sentiment begs the question, “Wha?!?!?!?”

See … There are opposing world views in the school library world about libraries and quiet policies.  “Old school” or “quiet” libraries are stereotyped as stuffy places where students don’t want to go and librarians are mean old women (don’t mean to be sexist, but that is, indeed, the stereotype) with their hair up in buns guarding dusty old books that nobody wants to use.  “New school” or “unquiet” libraries are stereotyped as being bright, sunny, airy spaces that are lively, welcoming, “information commons” spaces where bright-eyed young middle schoolers arrange their chairs neatly in clusters and eagerly gather around digital devices.  In excited, but low “inside voices” these middle school beings contemplate and debate the balance of renewable and fossil fuel production sources needed to minimize America’s carbon footprint, while allowing the U.S. economy to grow out of recession and prevent us from heaving ourselves over a fiscal cliff so that their librarians who have served them nobly can someday retire modestly  with enough in their 403b plans to live comfortably and have decent medical care.

Wow … I’m breathless … Anyway …

I do, indeed, work in a library with a staff of librarians that has whole-heartedly embraced the “unquiet” library model and most of the time … Well … I really love like it.  There really is nothing creepier or sadder than a beautifully designed school library that has no students in it.  There are, however, times during the school year, when … Well … There are times when I just want to go old school and make everybody shut-up.  “Silence is golden, children!  Silence is GOLDEN!!!”  It seems to me, that one of the times every year when I suddenly feel the need to go “old school” is this stretch that runs from just before Halloween until first quarter grades come out in about two weeks.

I think that this stretch of time is after our week of all-school retreats when our seventh graders suddenly feel very comfortable on campus and feel “ownership” of the campus now.  Emotionally, they feel like they are now eighth graders, but our eighth graders … Well … Our eighth graders are still eighth graders.  For those of you who are not middle school teachers or librarians (the uninitiated), let me just tell you, that … Well … Two eighth grades on a campus is not really a good thing …

I’ve composed a set of open letters to the sevvies and 8th graders that I welcome into my library with open arms (albeit with a few conditions outlined below).

Letter #1:

Dear, I’m sure usually, delightful [insert appropriate grade, but most often 7th or 8th] grader,

I welcome you to the library, but you are being extremely loud–Like, even loud for a playground, loud. Please settle down and get to work using your indoor voice or you can choose to go to the student lounge near your deans’ offices or the dining commons. We don’t force you to be locked in here like when I was in middle school and that’s a wonderful thing!

Sincerely,

Mr. Ambookgeek

Letter #2:

Dear, I’m sure usually, delightful [insert appropriate grade, but most often 7th or 8th] grader,

Well … Child … What’s with the ‘tude and the rolled eye-balls? Because, you know, you are now the umteenth child I’m having this conversation with.  I have walked over and calmly asked you to quiet down and work productively or to please head outside and … Here I am for a third time in a single period.

Here’s the thing, Mr. Ambookgeek had only one single nerve left and you are now standing on it and jumping up and down.

So … Child … You best reign it in because, though I am not exactly an Alpha Male, I can still piss a whole lot higher than you … And I am fully capable of dishing the ‘tude.  Believe me, you won’t like it. I work out at the 24-Hour Fitness in West Hollywood so I have an advanced degree in ‘tude. So …

Stop rolling your eyeballs. Speak with an inside voice. Pick up your crap. Don’t bounce balls in the library. Push your chair in when you leave.

If you can meet these terms, we’re so very happy to have you.  If not, GET OUT!

Thanks for your cooperation and support on this matter,

Mr. Ambookgeek

I’m hoping that with just a little clear communication we can all live happily together in our unquiet (but let’s never forget that it’s not a frigging playground) library.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s