Most people assume libraries are naturally quiet places, but with the increase in collaborative study and the popularity of gathering among the books, that’s no longer the case with many libraries. Even when speaking in hushed tones, the more people converse in a library’s gathering spaces and group tables, the louder the overall noise floor becomes–and the harder it is for individuals to find nooks for quiet reading and study. Besides hanging out a bunch of “Quiet, please!” signs, what can you do as a library administrator to create spaces that are conducive to quiet study? Let’s talk about a few practical techniques you can implement.
Use Demountable Glass Walls to Build Out “Quiet Rooms”
While open-concept group tables and study spaces are popular, they’re not always ideal for those who need to focus and get work done. If your library is feeling a bit too noisy for individual focus, consider building out some small “quiet rooms.” Demountable glass walls make it easy for librarians to keep an eye on what’s going on while still providing some privacy and noise-reducing barriers for those who need them.
Install More Tables with Dividers
Table with dividing panels (AKA carrels) naturally lend themselves to quiet study because only one person can sit in a defined space at a time. Consider setting aside some floor space for tables with dividers to provide an alternative to collaborative tables for those who need some peace and quiet.
Create More Seating Nooks
Another great strategy for creating quiet space in a noisy library is by creating nooks with comfortable seating, preferably in corner areas that are separate from the main thoroughfares. Upholstered lounge chairs not only make users feel more at home, but they also absorb some of the ambient sound so it feels quieter. You can also use strategically placed shelving and/or barrier walls to create semi-enclosures around these nooks for additional privacy.
Install Acoustic Panels
One excellent way to control noise levels overall within the library is to install acoustic panels to absorb the sound. These panels can be placed on walls, on ceilings, in conference rooms, as barriers for study nooks, etc. Acoustic panels aren’t soundproofing, but they do absorb the sound waves in the room so that even when people talk, the voices won’t be amplified by the walls. Not only will this help to create a more conducive environment for quiet study, it will also be helpful in areas where group work is taking place so that everyone can be heard better.
Set Some “Quiet Hours”
If your library space is not very conducive to carving out separate quiet spaces, you might consider designating some “quiet hours.” Let people know when the library will be open for business as usual, and then set aside a few hours each day (or each week) when only silent study will be allowed. This protocol isn’t always easy to enforce, but it can be a helpful alternative when space and resources are limited.
If you’re looking for innovative ways to create more quiet spaces in your library, Creative Library Concepts can help. We offer an array of products and solutions to configure your space to encourage more focus and study. Reach out to us today to learn more.