Meet Amanda

Today, libraries serve many functions. They provide the community with access to computers and media rooms. They host activities such as workshops, meetings and social gatherings. And they also retain their core role, which is to provide patrons with reference materials and a comfortable environment in which to read, write and study.

Unfortunately, these activities don't always mix well when it comes to acoustics. At the same time, the demands created by these new uses make it more challenging for staff to enforce a policy of silence. In any case, even if patrons try to keep conversations and unnecessary noise to a minimum, any noises that remain in the space are there by necessity and must be addressed through design.

However, the predominantly open environment also poses challenges to conventional noise control methods. Though areas may be allotted to particular activities, they might not be large enough to accommodate the number of patrons who want to use them or they're located next to areas in which other types of activities are taking place. Even closed rooms don't necessarily provide the expected level of noise isolation.

Conversations and noises are disruptive to patrons who are engaged in tasks that require concentration. Speech privacy is another acoustic concern because the library houses its business operations. Privacy is required for discussions involving staff, security, patron-related issues, financial information and other sensitive topics.

Creating an effective acoustic environment can help marry traditional uses with new and ever-expanding services, and ensure the facility is well-suited to the demands being placed upon it.