It’s okay for libraries to be loud! Take it from me, a librarian.

May 12, 2023
Dimitris Passas

NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: The Washington Post (Perspective by Karen MacPherson).

It was a quiet early afternoon in the library, and we librarians were enjoying a rather raucous chat at the circulation desk. Suddenly, a patron, who had been reading a magazine, marched up to us, gave us an annoyed “Shush!” and went back to her seat.

Stunned into silence, we tried not to giggle. How weird for a group of librarians to be shushed by a patron! Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Well, it’s complicated. If you’re a baby boomer like me, you probably remember libraries as places of silent reading; any loud voices were immediately shushed by a librarian. These days, however, libraries are more like bustling community centers, where being at least somewhat noisy is the new normal, especially when kids are involved. As someone who led hundreds of circle times at my public library, I can tell you there’s just no quiet way to do the Hokey Pokey.

A new picture book, “The Loud Librarian,” by Jenna Beatrice, hilariously highlights the topic of noise in the library, using lots of LARGE font to highlight the big voice of the protagonist, a young girl named Penelope. Featuring bright, energetic illustrations by Erika Lynne Jones, the book shows Penelope discovering that her boisterous voice causes chaos when she’s chosen as the student librarian for her class. Books tumble from the shelves, and classmates shudder at her booming tones. A crestfallen Penelope is ready to give up her librarian role when she suddenly thinks of a place where she can be her vibrant self: story time.

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