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Silence? No, But Close Enough

I have mentioned many times how much noise there is at the library these days.  People talking, people laughing, cell phones ringing, cell-phone chatter, kids screaming — all compete for the space in the air at the library.  Times have changed since stern spinster librarians would “Shhh!” you for breathing too loud.

I wear foam earplugs, but they only mute the noise.   A voice in my head told me that I can block the noise by wearing the earplugs, and headphones playing white noise, or rain and thunderstorms.  I tried it.  It worked!

It’s not silence, but it’s close enough.



I Knew It!

Over 20 years ago, my car died and went to Heaven.  I have used public transit ever since.

It wasn’t long after using public transit that I worried about the noise levels—especially on the subway.  I tried calling the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to find out decibel levels.  For two weeks I was transferred to various departments and left voice messages.  No one returned my calls.  I concluded that the TTC did not want the public to know the decibel levels on the subway.  I have worn earplugs for the past 20 years.

I expressed my concerns about the noise levels on public transit to several friends.  I said how I worried about hearing damage while on the subway.  These friends dismissed my concern as frivolous.  “You’re worried about nothing,” they said.  That did not stop me from wearing earplugs.

A study published in Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, mentions how the noises on the subway can damage hearing.  I knew it!  I knew it!  I knew it!

I also know that studies have proven that studies contradict each other.  That means that the TTC will publish a study stating that using the TTC not only improves hearing, but causes weight loss, whiter teeth, and a longer life.  This may be true, but I will continue to wear earplugs while on the subway.


Please be advised on Thursday July 27 between 2-3pm the noise level may be louder than normal due to a children’s program.


The library staff posted that sign at the entrance to the Northern District Library today.

The Northern District Library would not be the Northern District Library if it wasn’t for screaming children.  Something is wrong when there aren’t children screaming.  The Toddler Union rules do not allow a child to scream for more than 10 minutes.  As soon as a child reaches the ten-minute limit of screaming, another child starts.  And so it goes.

The sounds of screaming children blends with the cell-phone conversations, people laughing and talking, and more cell phone conversations, and more people laughing and talking.  I keep looking for ear plugs, or muffs, that block out noise completely.  No luck so far.

So now they say that on Thursday the noise level may be “louder than normal”?  Impossible! The noise level at the Northern District Library cannot get any louder.  But I could be wrong.  I will find out Thursday.




As I write this, I am at a table for four at the North York Central Library.  I am not alone.  I was alone with three empty places, but four young women from the Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts just took up the three spaces, and added a fourth at the end of the table.  They have their text and notebooks open, but are devoting their energy to talking and laughing and farting around on their phones.

How would these young women behave if the sign on the table read:  MAKE NOISE!  TALK!  LAUGH!  PLAY WITH YOUR PHONES! ?   Because they are human, they would likely sit quietly and study thinking, “These rules and signs are for other people, and do not apply to us.”

When I was in high school, just after Cog invented the wheel, the school provided places where students could study and work on projects together after school.  There was the school’s library, cafeteria, and some large classrooms.  Don’t high schools today provide places for after-school study?   If they do, then many students don’t use them.  These students would rather invade a library and disturb the peace.

Oh?  What’s this?  The invaders are leaving.  But it’s only been 90 minutes of noise making.  Is it time for them to disturb  some other part of Paradise?

Goodbye kids.  Thanks for giving me something to write about.



I have blogged before about the noise permitted in libraries.  Today’s blog involves four people: two gabbing librarians, and two men who talk to people no one else can see.

The two librarians at the Reference Desk were having a wonderful conversation which did not sound work related.  Both were facing each other away from their computer terminals.  They weren’t talking too loud, but they were loud enough in an environment that is supposed to be quiet.  In other words, they were adding to the noise.

Both men were tall.  Both had issues with people no one could see.

The first man was wearing a red baseball cap and a beige overcoat.  Perhaps he lost his mind during the winter.  It was hot and humid.  He was at a computer occasionally swearing at an invisible person beside him.  I could not hear what the invisible person was saying, but the man was scolding him/her(?) for having sex.

You would expect one of the two gabbing librarians to say something to him after his frequent outbursts.  Nope.  When he got loud they stopped their conversation and looked at him briefly, and then returned to gabbing.

At the same time the second man, dressed in a blue sweatshirt and jeans, ran to a free computer.  This man gives the word frenetic new meaning.  He frenetically sat down.  He frenetically started typing on the keyboard — actually pounding is a better word.  And he frenetically looked up, while pounding on the keyboard, and cursed the invisible people floating above him.  He challenged them to a fight and waved his fists.

The gabbing librarians looked up briefly, when he disturbed their conversation, and then returned to gabbing.

Libraries sure ain’t what they used to be.