Am I the only one who missed something, some subtle or wrenching shift in the rules of modern society? Or is the library no longer a sacred place, a place where knowledge awaits the adventurous reader on every shelf and the librarian lords over the aisles with a finger itching to be raised to her lips to silence the echoes of a dropped book or scratchy whispers of rapidly turned pages?
Just days ago I pulled out a chair and slipped into a work station at the Squamish Public Library. I plugged in my laptop and took advantage of living in a social country. It was warm and dry inside while the rain poured down so strongly you could hear it pattering on the roof. I smiled to no one as the tranquility of the quiet building washed over me.
Then it happened. I can’t be sure how long I’d been plinking at my keyboard for but suddenly a horrible sound filled the place. I pulled out my earplugs and the soft music I’d been playing faded to what sounded like a child being skinned alive. This howling was laced with long, drawn-out “nooooooo’s” in his wailing overture. I looked around in desperation as if by locating the source I could somehow put it out of my head. Failing to do either, I resigned to wait it out. I dare say, it became a siege, a long and arduous wait that boiled my blood as I cringed deeper into my chair. And still the child howled.
How was this blood-curdling racket able to continue? Where were the parents? Where was the staff? Where was the humanity? A giggle from several ladies behind the front desk answered one of my questions. My inner ear strained under a renewed assault of a higher-pitched octave.
I caved in. Grim faced, I threw my belongings recklessly into a bag and stormed towards the doors. On my way past the front desk I scanned for something and found it in a corner by the photocopier. There, posted on the wall are the rules of conduct for library patrons. All the obvious rules are there: no eating or drinking, no drunken sots, no unattended children, no book burning or stealing and so on. Near the bottom of the list I found what I was looking for. “Noise, whether by speech or other activity, which is preventing the peaceable enjoyment of the library by patrons is not permitted.” It might be Rule 11 but it’s still a rule.
I say again, how was this disruption allowed to go on? Who is responsible for the enforcement? Certainly not I. So really, did I miss something?