TTW Mailbox: Zones at Oak Park Public Library (updated)


Monica Harris, Young Adult Librarian, at Oak Park Public Library shares information about their new zoned system for noise:

Dear Michael – I’m attaching PDF files of our brochure, key, and signage explaining the noise zones so you can get a better idea of what it looks like. The brochure includes a color coded map that will show how the space is divided.

Our intention was to create a library space that the wide variety of users, from those who want total silence to those here to attend boisterous programming and meet with friends, can have a place they feel comfortable in. Since our main issue for our patrons was noise (the library was too loud, or there weren’t enough places where their group felt comfortable talking) we made the noise zones defined by behavior that patrons could control and made three designations: silent, quiet, social.

There are several University libraries in the UK employing this kind of system. We took the opportunity to evaluate our services and attach our own qualifiers and standards, and develop our own promotional material. As I’m sure you can see from the maps in the brochure, the majority of our library is a Green/Social space.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this considering your position in evaluating the cell phone signage of the world. 🙂 It has been pretty successful thus far, but we are always open to creating ways to make it better.


I’m intrigued by this. It looks well-thought and offers spaces for all type of interaction .Some questions:

Can I text in a SILENT zone?

Is there a group technology center area for foks who might want to be SOCIAL while working together on computers, etc?

It seems that RED is the color for SILENT at OPPL and elsewhere! I have mixed feelings about that. I need to mull it over some more. I do appreciate the acknowledgement that cell usage is okay in the library setting, with words such as “considerate.” That’s a far cry from this:

Thanks for sharing, Monica!

More detail here:

Green Light AreaZone DetailMap of OPPL


Ellen Hampton at Baylor commnets:

We started a similar system at Baylor this semester (our signs went up right around finals) – but it was phrased a little differently. Our zones were 1) Monastery Quiet, 2) Nature Film Narrator Quiet and 3) Nice Restaurant Quiet.

Pictures here and here.

Our students responded really well and love the signs. When the email went out to campus with the info, dozens of students emailed the dean of the libraries saying how much they loved the humor of the different zones of quiet, and that they wished the library wrote all of the all-campus emails.