Searching for QUIET libraries in the tri-state area
January 11, 2018 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Hi. I was wondering if anyone happens to know of any public libraries in the tri-state area – particularly in North Jersey – where the staff is actually serious about maintaining a quiet environment?

It's become nigh impossible to find any respite from people who never get tired of the sound of their own voices, who leave their cellphones on (and, needless to say, answer them) regardless of where they are, and who clearly don't feel that libraries warrant a different code of conduct than, say, a trip to the mall. The librarians at the facilities I've frequented over the years are complicit in this, and the unmistakable vibe I get from people is that the assholes aren't those who refuse to STFU, but those who take issue with said refusal. I suppose I've officially entered old fart territory, but didn't there used to be a time when it was understood and accepted that libraries were the one place people feeling chatty didn't go? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by DavidfromBA to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Many libraries have quiet study rooms with doors - you might check if your local libraries offer this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:12 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]

Libraries have been morphing from study spaces to community spaces, and the "this is a silent space" vibe has gone away with that trend. I do recommend asking the librarians specifically about quiet spaces.

Otherwise, maybe try a Christian Science Reading Room? You don't have to just read the Bible...
posted by brainmouse at 3:25 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]

maybe search reviews for "quiet" "study" rooms among local libraries.
Also, it does depend on time of day--so try a few different times of day before crossing a library off your list.
I would think that larger or multi-story libraries could pull off some quieter areas better than small neighborhood places. Having said that, our neighborhood branch is very quiet until school lets out at 3.
posted by calgirl at 3:40 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

The Ridgewood library (Bergen county) has a quiet room with comfy chairs in the corner of the upstairs.
posted by raccoon409 at 4:08 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

@ showbiz_liz, brainmouse + calgirl: I've occasionally used those quiet rooms when I had something important to do, like take an evaluation test as part of a job application, but I suppose I could try to use them for day-to-day purposes as well. The library I use the most requires booking such rooms, which may somewhat hamper spontaneous access, but then I don't think they're always booked, so I could probably just ask the librarians. I guess I just miss the days when the main parts of libraries were quiet zones, too.

@ raccoon409: I might have to check that out!

@ EVERYONE: Thank you for your responses.
posted by DavidfromBA at 4:21 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

I don't know about the tri-state area specifically, but where I live some universities and community colleges make their library spaces available to the public. That might be worth looking into -- higher ed libraries usually have more of that old-school quiet library feel.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 4:45 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]

Upper stories of public university libraries are often good for this. Maybe Rutgers? I see outside of late night hours the Rutgers libraries are open to everyone.
posted by crazy with stars at 4:47 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]

When I needed to study I found a local college that served as a federal repository. There was a whole floor of statutes and records that were rarely used and study carrels that were for the silence .
Look at college libraries, silence for studying is enforced in at least part of the space.
posted by readery at 5:05 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]

I suppose I could try to use them for day-to-day purposes as well.

I'm a librarian and I suggest this. I sometimes like to be in a library for quiet study and I have found there are a few tricks besides just going into a room with a door that closes

- go early in the day - after school times is when most libraries particularly have more people, more younger people and more noise
- consider community colleges, also at odd hours particularly evenings -- my local one is a TOMB late at night especially on weekends and it's very comfortable and there is coffee
- look for multi-story libraries with "closed" floor plans (i.e. not an open atrium right in the middle spanning multiple floors) - in these cases often the upper floors are quieter, not deadly quiet but not bad

You can also ask the professionals. There is a library association in New Jersey who, if asked politely, might be able to tell you which libraries in your particular geographic area are likely to be quieter, or which parts of which libraries. I'm not sure the best way to get in touch with them, but they are the people who have the information you want.
posted by jessamyn at 5:19 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]

Law libraries, IME, are very quiet. Some have visiting hours open to the public.

Otherwise, the idea that public libraries are becoming (noisy) community centers is accurate. I realized this after walking into a library full of people who were doing everything from puzzles to study groups to having loud arguments with the librarians. I was surprised as the libraries I grew up in were always deadly quiet. Demographics make a huge difference.

Study rooms work if they are available to you on a regular basis, but at my local library, I was told I could only check a room out once a week, and that only for two hours at a time. YMMV.
posted by Crystal Fox at 6:11 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]

The Princeton library -- the one belonging to the township, not the university -- has a massive quiet section on its second floor. It's a beautiful space and I totally recommend it. (I managed to do a lot of my creative work there over the past year.)
posted by orangutan at 6:49 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me like you're looking for an academic library, not a public library. Look for a nearby academic library that's a federal depository (directory here); they have obligations to be open to the public that other institutions might not have. State schools and community colleges, too, will usually have libraries that are open to the public.

As mentioned upthread, some public libraries will have a designated quiet space, with varying degrees of actual quiet. However, making such a space available is now one goal among many, not the paramount objective of the entire facility. I don't recommend waiting for this to change back. As public libraries' mission evolves into a more active community space that addresses a much broader spectrum of literacies, a public library like the one you are looking for would represent something on the order of professional malpractice for the people overseeing it.
posted by willpie at 6:36 AM on January 12 [3 favorites]

The Westfield Public Library is really quiet. Even when there's tutoring hours going on, the whole atmosphere is very hushed.
posted by Miko at 8:49 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]

I also came to suggest a university library; as long as you don't need to check out books, which requires a student id, there usually isn't a problem with the general public using the facilities. Due to all the studying they are generally very diligent about quietness.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:50 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]

How far north?

Bergen Community College library in Paramus "strives to maintain an atmosphere conducive to study and research. A variety of study areas are available on the Main and Upper Floors."
posted by BWA at 6:37 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

Seton Hall University Library in South Orange has quiet rooms - they also have a pretty good cafeteria (across the way in a different building!). I spent 47hrs straight (yes - straight) there when studying for my NCLEX exams. The librarians were very nice, helpful and they don't hassle you about bringing in a cup of tea/coffee. You just have to tell the guard at the gate that you are going to the library and they will give you a parking pass. You don't have to show ID.

Rutgers Law Library in Newark has a whole bunch of private rooms; it's also really quiet. However parking can be really sketchy or you have to pay for a garage.

There's a library at the Essex County College Caldwell Campus on Bloomfield Ave just above Passaic Ave, but I can't remember if they have quiet rooms. Give them a call. The atmosphere is very different than the Newark Campus. I've been to both; the Caldwell Campus is much more an adult population and less like just graduated teenagers.

The Maplewood Library definitely has little quiet rooms; I believe the Livingston Library does, as well.
posted by dancinglamb at 2:35 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I'm a librarian in Central NJ - in Woodbridge, the Main library and the Fords branch both have quiet rooms.
posted by lyssabee at 1:05 PM on January 14 [1 favorite]

« Older Is my iPhone SE already out of juice?   |   Avoiding lead in kitchenware Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments