Once upon a time, quiet was queen within the public library.
But today's broad range of library programs, from movies to discussion groups to exercise classes, sparks a less hush-hush atmosphere that might leave Marian the Librarian, of "The Music Man," aghast.
Or maybe she'd quit whispering, too, and celebrate the new direction. Yes, folks talk right out loud in libraries now -- and do they ever get shushed?
"Forget it, that is not happening," says Eva Poole, president of the Public Library Association in Washington D.C. "It's just a more vibrant, engaging and interactive space now, it really is."
At the Ogden Valley branch of the Weber County Library in Huntsville, assistant manager Cheryl Potter says there are areas for studying, but also areas where people can chat and collaborate on projects, like a school report or business proposal.
"So it's a mixture of quiet and noisy," she says, adding, "We don't go around shh-ing people anymore."
The Weber County Library promotes a policy of radical civility, encouraging patrons to be aware of how their behaviors affect others.
So, for example, says adult programming coordinator Jessica Whetman, a chatty visitor may be directed to another area and told, "We can't have you talking on your cellphone out here in the foyer -- this is our quiet area on this floor."
Today's library is a place to come and meet friends, make new friends and enjoy programs in a sort of community family room, says Lynnda Wangsgard, director of the Weber County Library system.
"For the most part," she says, "people do not come to the library expecting it to be a quiet place."