Monday, December 12, 2005

Letter to ST Forum: Some children treat library as playground

A letter was published in The Straits Times Forum page today, by Mdm Susan Chiong, who observed that some children treat the library as a playground. It's not that she's against the children having fun, but not when they ignore "basic decorum" or library etiquette.

Reading the letter, I came to this "What If" scenario where if mums and dads do not teach their children, under a certain age, to behave in libraries or other public places, they would be slapped with demerit points. Beyond certain points, the recalcitrant mums and dads would have to pay a fine...

... anyway, it's heartening to have library customers express support for staff in enforcing library rules. Here's part of Mdm Chong's letter:
Many parents do not put books back properly, even though browsing bins are placed near the bookshelves. They just leave books strewn carelessly on benches, bookshelves and the floor.

I can tell when a parent is about to leave because she does not hesitate to call out loudly to her children. I even saw one chide a librarian for telling his children to keep their voices down.

In my opinion, it is the librarian's duty to uphold the rules of the library for the benefit of users.

As we teach our children to tidy up at home, we should do likewise in public facilities like the library.

We should not have the mentality that people are hired to tidy up after us. With a concerted effort, we can help the librarians manage the library more efficiently.

I laud the effort by the Government to bring these community facilities and services nearer our homes.

Hence, we are responsible for upholding the decorum of these places and adhere to the rules, which are formulated for the convenience and comfort of all users.

Public servants have already initiated better customer care through training. We should reciprocate by being responsible when using public facilities.

I would like to thank the unsung heroes in the public service, especially those working in the libraries.

Source: ST Forum, 12 Dec 2005 (online version archived for 7 days only).

If you've read Mdm Chong's article in full, what do you think? Any comments?

Also, I wonder if libraries overseas have a similar issue as described in the letter. If so, any effective ways to deal with it?



  1. Its the same issue which we face in museums. If everybody is quiet, there will be some who complain that there is no life or bustle ie not "lao jiak". If people talk, especially kids, there will be some who says that the peace is broken.

    The way to manage this is to adopt a fine balance. Also, citizen policing may be useful.

  2. “Many teenagers gather in a corner chatting and laughing loudly. I wonder what these students are doing in the children's section“

    I do agree with that. Still remeber during the end of year exams, I went to the library for studying. there is a group of people open their books but speak louding until I cannot concerate.

  3. Ivan, I think libraries for children are really noisy places like, playgrounds. With children these days, even their parents are having a hard time teaching them "proper decorum".


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