Noisy library

PUBLISHED: 11:55 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

SIR, — Am I the only citizen of the St Albans area who considers the Maltings Library to be an absolute shambles? The last eight or 10 times I have visited this potentially superb library, I have walked out within 15 minutes. The main reason for this is

SIR, - Am I the only citizen of the St Albans area who considers the Maltings Library to be an absolute shambles? The last eight or 10 times I have visited this potentially superb library, I have walked out within 15 minutes.

The main reason for this is the sheer volume of noise that exists in the library. This comes from several sources.

Firstly, there appears to be a children's play area that has not be partitioned from the rest of the room. It is always very noisy, making it quite impossible to read, browse or study which is precisely what a library is for. Whoever conceived the idea of putting an unpartitioned play area adjacent to the main reading section must have been either mad or drunk. I even once saw an idiotic father chasing his daughter in and out of the aisles. The fact that she was shrieking with delight did not deter him.

Secondly, there are always groups of teenagers who bunch together and talk and giggle with no attempt to be quiet. These senseless youngsters quite clearly have no manners, probably because there is no-one in their homes to teach them any.

Thirdly, there are mobile phones going off all the time, some of them with loud ringing tones, after which there follows the inevitable loud conversation. Add all of this to the fact that there are often dossers sleeping in the chair provided and what you have is not so much a library but a building that has the feel of a minimum-security prison. And to think that libraries used to have "silence" notices hanging from the ceiling.

I have written three letters of complaint but they have proved to be an absolute waste of time. The first letter stated that the children's area was meant for reading and that there was no intention of it being a play area. This is nonsense because there are toys everywhere. The writer also suggested that I use the library at less busy times! This impertinent suggestion made me cross.

The second letter contained the curious sentence: "We do not expect silence in any part of the library". It went on to say that the open-plan layout allowed noise to spread throughout the room but it was managed by "staff intervention". I have never seen an instance of staff intervention and don't expect to - the place is run by librarians, not bouncers.

The last letter I wrote - rather a strong one - was to John Harris, the man in charge of Herts libraries. He did not reply but instead instructed someone called Glenda Wood, head of libraries, to deal with it. Her letter was mainly a defence of the previous two letters but it said there would be a major refurbishment in 2007 which would include an attempt at noise reduction. The noise reduction bit never happened.

I do not object to there being somewhere for mothers to take their children, nor to a suitable place for teenagers to congregate but a public library is definitely not a suitable place for these activities. Nor is it a fit place for dossers to sleep as some of them are very dirty. This is a health hazard.

By their refusal to accept that anything is wrong and deal with it, I can only conclude that librarians live in a world of make believe. I live in the real world and I consider the Maltings Library to be a disgrace.

NORMAN HART,

Kingfisher Close, Wheathampstead.

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