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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Making the Most of the Space You Have

Libraries are no longer quiet

Public libraries are vibrant, active places

All the activity in a library generates noise. In the old days, people saw libraries as silent places for study. Today, finding a quiet space in a public library is often a challenge.

While noise levels can be high, it's important to provide space for people who want quiet.

Study tables with felt dividers

Felt is a material that absorbs sound. Above and right are two examples of thick felt used to isolate noise.

Corrugated felt divider

Sound masking emitters

Above are sound masking emitters. Sound masking is a technology in which a calibrated level of background sound renders speech unintelligible and less distracting.

On the right is an acoustical wall treatment that can reduce reverberation and dampen sound.

All of these technologies should be considered with the help of an acoustical consultant or engineer -- every space is different and needs individual analysis for the best result.

Hexagonal acoustical wall tiles