OPINION | Quiet! Thinking in progress

This is not the column I was going to write. I sat down in the library to knock off another chirpy, light-hearted piece about something or other, but I have been waylaid.

In fact, I am wearing my angry face and trying not to shout across the room at the people around me. It would be kind of ironic if I did so, though, as the reason I’m cranky is because everyone is so LOUD.

I wrote recently in praise of the marvel that is the public library.

But I’ve encountered a few setbacks lately and I’ll detail them here, because I honestly can’t concentrate on any other topic.

Right now, I’m listening to someone conduct a series of phone conversations. I gather his name is George, he’s talked to Sam and Keiran and now someone else, and the topic is the current bushfires burning in the region. Which roads are closed, which route he’ll take from here to there, and so on. All very interesting, to Sam and George and Keiran at least, but not to me. No, I couldn’t care less and wish he would shut the heck up.

Nearby, someone else has forgotten the silent phone rule as well. She’s temporarily slipped away from her desk and an insistent caller is setting off her very distracting ringtone. Three times so far.

The other day, in a different library, an older gentleman came and sat alongside me at the work desks. I looked up when he started making disgusting, sloppy noises with his mouth, fearing the worst, and what did I see? An apple pie, being eating with great gusto.

Are you kidding me?

At what point did libraries become a cross between a cafe and a call centre?

I’m not averse to toddler reading time chatter or babies crying, but inconsiderate adults are a whole different kettle of fish.

It’s not that I want to go back to the days of stern-faced librarians shushing anyone who dares to raise their voice above a whisper, but neither do I want libraries to lose their most sacred quality: quiet.

After all, if I want to work in a noisy environment and watch other people eat, I have a perfectly good office to go to.