is anybody listening?


The Aurora Public Library co-opted the title of a 2012 Queen Latifah film to describe live music it reverberates through its building.

The outgoing CEO of the library encouraged the blaring of “joyful noise” and was quoted in the Auroran recently saying:   “When we do things like have a band playing in the living room – it is noisy and disturbs people, that is not the intent”

Just because creating noise that disturbs people is unintentional doesn’t mean the library staff and board of directors can just shrug it off.

Which is exactly what they are doing.

Frank Stephenson and Adelaide Mayberry both wrote letters to the Auroran.

Stephenson’s take is that music is wonderful, but the library is not the venue for it.

Mayberry shares this sentiment: “There’s a time and a place for jazz concerts, holiday music, and MC’ed events, but that place isn’t in the lobby of an open-concept library.”

It is not a matter of the library not having alternative spaces to play this music as the outgoing CEO suggested in a reponse to Mayberry’s letter.  They absolutely do.  There are 2 rooms in the building the library has access to that are outside the glass doors to the main space of the library.  They are used for other music events and would be ideal for containing the noise and prevent it from disturbing people.

They don’t.

The library consciously chooses to program this activity into the middle of the library because as a staff member said ” the design of the library is perfect for concerts”.

Wow, and here I though the design of the library was to advance its Mission, stated as:

Discovery and Inspiration…
Connecting Aurora to information, lifelong learning, literacy and the love of reading

Nothing about music or concerts there.

Why does expanding the Aurora Public Library’s mission to include music demand that patrons surrender the peace they seek there? Couldn’t libraries do both?

It doesn’t seem to be an issue for our neighbors in Stoufville which recently renovated their library.  It has its own music room:


The outgoing CEO’s remarks are very difficult reconcile :I think doing those things that position the library as a community hub for fun, for culture, for laughter, for song.”

For song?  Why does the library need to position itself as a community hub for song?

The town park is an established community hub for song.  Churches in the cultural precinct are considered community hubs for song.  Restaurants steps away from the library that host live music are a community hub for song.  The Aurora Cultural Centre believes itself to be a community hub for song, and it is right next door.

If you read through the library’s strategic plan the words “music” or “song” are not in it once.

So why in 2018 is the Aurora Public Library considering itself the time and place for song, when there are several community partners that deliver this service without disturbing and displacing those who seek out and enjoy the quiet space of the library?

That is the very question advanced by Laura Miller’s 2013 Salon piece that explored the findings of the Pew Research Center report “Library Services in the Digital Age,“:

According the Pew study, quiet matters more to library patrons than special programs for kids or job-search resources or access to fancy databases or classes and events or spaces for public meetings. It matters more to them than the ability to check out e-books or engage in “more interactive learning experiences” — areas that many library experts seem to regard as top priorities for the libraries of the future.

Quiet is an essential service of the library, and I’m disappointed that the outgoing CEO and library board have abandoned it in an effort to become just another concert venue.

The CEO says “I hope my successor will feel those things are important too.”

I hope not.

The incoming CEO needs to recognize that disturbing library patrons by forcing noise through the library runs counter to the value of inclusiveness, and provision of “equitable services” listed in the library’s strategic plan:


Laura Miller emphasizes how removing the quiet space of the library negatively impacts  inclusiveness of different classes looking for a peaceful space:

For rich people, that’s not a problem. They live in spacious homes, glide along in hermetically sealed cars, book weekends in restful spas, dine in restaurants where the nearest table is 6 feet away. Quiet is one of the sweetest luxuries they’re able to afford. But most rich people don’t use libraries. For the rest of us, refuge from this cacophonous world is getting harder and harder to come by.

Let’s hope librarians are listening to all the patrons asking them not to take it away.

Well they haven’t been here in Aurora but a change of CEO, council and library board provides the opportunity to return the library to a community hub intent on not disturbing its members with noise, joyful or otherwise.



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