New Halifax library too noisy for some

Building designed to cut clamour, but 'it's not gonna be quiet'


People study in the Halifax Central Library this week. Photo: Takaichi Kogata

If you’re looking for a quiet place to study in Halifax, the city’s new library likely won’t cut it.

Some university students have complained about the noise at the Halifax Central Library, though staff say there are quiet spaces in the building.

Since the library opened on Dec. 13, it’s been a popular downtown destination.

However, some people in this library don’t feel comfortable because kids make noise and scream there.

“Personally, I like studying in a little bit loud place, but sometimes it goes too far,” says Hiroaki Nakashima, who is a Saint Mary’s University’s second year student studying geopolitics.

“The library is the good place to study because we can see many friends. When I get tired while I am reading or writing, I can just talk to my friends. … But to be honest, I can’t concentrate on studying when someone is too loud.”

The library does have a children’s room where kids can play with toys or read.

“It’s a really nice idea because their parents themselves as well as others can read books without worrying about anything,” Nakashima says.

“Modern libraries don’t merely serve as study spaces, but they are community centers where everyone is welcome, especially children,” says King’s journalism student Rachel Richard, who was a librarian in Moncton before she came to Halifax.

Cynthia Gatto is a manager of children’s services at Halifax Central Library. She points out that there are some floors for those who prefer reading quietly.

“I would go to the fourth floor. It tends to be quieter. Fourth floor is for non-fiction. They tend to be a little bit more concentrating on what they are learning about,” she says.

She also says the library is designed to make less noise. “The staircase that overwraps a little absorbs the noise.”

But Gatto acknowledges that with the number of visitors the library is getting, the space is naturally going to be noisy.

“On the weekend, there are several hundred people in the building at one time. I was here on Sunday and it seemed like every chair was occupied. It’s not gonna be quiet.”

Gatto emphasizes the library is not only for adults, but also children.

“We are trying to give people spaces where they can be who they are.”

Kids playing with toys in the Halifax Central Library. Photo: Takaichi Kogata
Kids play with toys in the Halifax Central Library. Photo: Takaichi Kogata