South Scotland

Scottish Borders libraries not 'quiet places' any more

Library books Image copyright Getty Images

New rules have been approved in the Borders to recognise that libraries are no longer "places of silence".

The council's executive committee agreed the move to allow conversations and the use of electronic devices.

The management rules were drawn up after public consultation found most people were in favour of them.

However, one comment did suggest that libraries should continue to be places where people could only speak in "hushed voices".

The majority of respondents to the consultation agreed that the use of electronic devices should be allowed as long as it did not cause a nuisance, Local Democracy Reporter Joseph Anderson writes.

Some did question how that might be policed.

'No distractions'

One commenter said it would depend on "what the definition of nuisance is".

"Talking into a recording machine would, in my view, be a nuisance, or listening to music or a voice that is audible to other users would be a nuisance," the submission said.

"But listening through earphones to your own device wouldn't be an issue, unless it was turned up so loud that other users could also hear what was coming through the headphones."

Another respondent commented that nuisance was "too woolly a definition" and said libraries should still be "quiet places with no distractions".

The consultation also showed that most people were in favour of allowing conversation in libraries.

"This is somewhat unclear because there is talk in libraries," said one respondent.

"There always has been.

"I think libraries should continue to be places where people speak in hushed voices."

'Free zone'

The respondent added that there was an argument for libraries remaining more quiet zones.

"Who would want to go to the library and hear what some woman was cooking for dinner or ranting about her neighbour and teenagers gossiping about the latest Instagram and Snapchat post?" the submission continued.

"We unfortunately have to hear that in public everywhere else - on the bus, the train, in stores.

"Let libraries be a free zone!"

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