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The Sounds of a Library

It’s amazing how noisy a library can be. People think it’s a quiet place, and it can be, but we don’t shush people anymore and sometimes the librarians are the loudest of all. I love the sounds I hear from my office that keep me aware of the work that is being done right outside my door.

  • The computer dings as it checks out books
  • The receipt printer whirrs
  • The telephone rings and someone answers, Good Morning, Carver Public Library, how can I help you
  • The sound of someone greeting a library patron
  • The clack of a keyboard as I type this
  • The rip of the receipt as it’s torn from the roll
  • The chatter between staff members
  • The wheels of a book cart moving across the floor
  • The sound of a delivery being made
  • The thump of books as they are stacked on a cart
  • The emergency siren from the Fire Department across the street
  • The cash drawer opening and closing
  • The fax machine coming to life and printing out a menu from a local restaurant
  • The laughter of the Assistant Director
  • The rustle of a newspaper as an old man checks his stocks
  • The voice of someone saying, I’m here to pick up my books
  • The beep of the laser as it scans library cards and barcodes

I love all of those sounds for the things they represent. A vibrant and active library, people coming and going, getting the books and music and magazines they want, to make their lives more fulfilled and joyful. Last year when this building was closed it was so quiet. All of those sounds went away and I never realized how much I depended on them, how they acted as touchstones throughout my day, until I was the only one here and there was no sound to listen to except my own thoughts.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I’m glad your library is back to being a vibrant part of the community! Libraries are my favorite places in the world. I notice that all the sounds you list are part of the library’s business, so it’s not noise, it’s the music of books.

  2. This is like a poem! I can really imagine being in your library…or mine! Our library provided curbside service throughout the pandemic and it was a real life saver. It is so nice now that it is re-opened and I plan to listen more carefully the next time I visit.

  3. I love this. I have to check and see if my library has opened to visitors — I’m suddenly really wanting to go to it and just sit and take it all in!

  4. This is a gorgeous “list poem” Carole! And a beautiful tribute to a much loved place in your town!

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