Forum: Stop treating libraries as playgrounds

A reading lounge with a view of Sentosa in library@harbourfront.
A reading lounge with a view of Sentosa in library@harbourfront.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

A library should offer an environment conducive for learning and expanding one's mind (Making our libraries a second home for all, Jan 15).

The shocking misbehaviour of some children who treat the library as a playground reflects badly on their parents.

A library is a public place and users must show due consideration and respect for others.

Parents are responsible for educating and reminding their children that the library is not a playground, and children should not run and shout on the premises.

I once witnessed a father and his daughter playing hide-and-seek in the library at Nex.

When advised not to play in the library, the father and daughter sheepishly walked out.

The library officer shared with me that library staff are sometimes at a loss as parents lodge complaints against those who try to maintain silence and order.

On another occasion, I witnessed a group of schoolchildren sitting on the floor in a circle with beverages, chatting loudly as if they were having a picnic.

The intermittent public announcements to remind library users to be considerate and for children not to run have evidently fallen on deaf ears.

If students display such inconsiderate behaviour in an educational setting, how would they behave in the working world?

In the words of biologist and anthropologist Thomas Henry Huxley: "Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learnt; and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly."

A library is a public place and users must show due consideration and respect for others. Parents are responsible for educating and reminding their children that the library is not a playground, and children should not run and shout on the premises.

Let us critically view the actual situation, before libraries turn into substitute nurseries, kindergartens or playgrounds, losing their original role as places for learning.

Christony Lau Pet Keong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2020, with the headline 'Stop treating libraries as playgrounds'. Print Edition | Subscribe