The university I work at has two campus libraries. The downtown campus library is the main one where the majority of the collection lives as well as administration, cataloguing, ILL, and systems. It’s also the noisy one.
There have been a lot of complaints in the past about noise in the downtown library both from patrons and staff. A working group studied the issue and surveyed the patrons to find out what they wanted. Of course they discovered some people use the library for quiet solo study and some use it for group study and many actually fall into BOTH groups. That is, many patrons want the library to be both quiet and accepting of noise depending on their need at that moment. Classic case of you can’t please everybody all of the time. Since there are other campus spaces that have wifi where students can gather to chat and work on laptops (which we can loan), it was decided that the library would stick to the more traditional model of being a quiet study area.
To help bring about a change in the student culture, the libraries implemented zoning: two colours designating quiet areas and silent areas. You may believe the difference between quiet and silent is ambiguous but the descriptions are written on table top cards and signs everywhere: silent is absolutely no noise, and in quiet areas some conversation is permitted.
So far we’ve received quite a bit of positive feedback for our efforts. Libraries are always working to stay relevant and to be on top of users’ needs, and this just shows that sometimes the “old way” (of having quiet libraries) is still a good way.