From Tracie: That Time Dr. Seuss, America, and Super Heroes Stopped Me From Working At The Library

Sunday, July 12, 2015

That Time Dr. Seuss, America, and Super Heroes Stopped Me From Working At The Library

Recently I needed a quiet space with great internet to record a video conference for work. I couldn't do it at home or a coffee shop (too much noise) so I came up with the brilliant idea to use my local library. My library is great for things like this - they have special quiet rooms you can reserve ahead of time, and even a couple you can claim in the moment if no one else is using them. They even have an area where people can use a 3D printer, record albums, or use special photography equipment. Surely my library would be the perfect answer.

The day arrived. Thomas dropped me and Katarina off at the library when the doors opened at 9am. It was going to be a great day.

I noticed a large amount of Dr. Seuss themed decorations as we walked through the library. Large banners, balloon sculptures, baskets with workbooks and signs about reading and writing. Being a lover of Dr. Seuss, I was excited, even pausing long enough to take a couple of pictures with the balloons. "This is the best library day EVER" I thought.

Dr Seuss Reading Event Balloons At The Library

One of the librarians told me they were having a Dr. Seuss extravaganza, and were bussing in over 100 kids for a fun rock concert to kick off a summer writing challenge.

The writer inside of me was very excited. The person who needed to work was a little concerned at the words "fun rock concert" but how loud could it be, really. I mean, it is a library, right? I confirmed that they would be finished with the event before my video conference was going to start, and didn't worry about it.

Katarina and I settled in the YA section - she to look at books, me to work.

The band arrived for sound check. They loudly sang a song about germs and toilet seats.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 came by to wave and give us high fives. They came back a few minutes later and brought us a balloon.

As the kids started arriving, I admitted to myself that this event was going to be very loud. I quickly started looking for a quiet space to make a few necessary phone calls. Since the concert was in the main library, I found the children's section deserted and set up under the watchful eye of a magical lizard wizard. Katarina and I hung out there until the rock band finished their concert. Only small strains of germ songs filtered through the phone.

The Magical Lizard Of Oz Sculpture At The Orange County Library, Orlando, Florida

After lunch we moved to my reserved quiet room to settle in for the video conference. I connected with my partner, and everything was great for about one minute - until his town started their monthly tornado warning drill. I've never lived anywhere were they had tornado warning sirens, and I always wondered if they would really be loud enough to wake someone up. I can now say with confidence that those things will wake you up. It was LOUD. The whole process took about 15 minutes. We waited and laughed at the absurdity of the noise interrupting our recording session, and I told him about the Dr Seuss extravaganza he had missed that morning.

When the siren ended, it was time to get down to work. Three minutes in I heard music and then singing. "Do you hear that sound?" I asked, hoping the microphone wasn't picking it up.

"I am starting to feel a little patriotic. Is that America The Beautiful?" he responded.

"Yes. I think there are a couple of teenagers watching a video on the computers near the quiet room. We will wait it out for just a minute. The song is almost finished." But a song from Oh Brother Where Art Thou started almost immediately after that one ended, even thought the teenagers had walked away, and the computer screen was blank.

"Excuse me for just a minute while I go investigate this noise. I can't believe a librarian hasn't shut it down already." I left my quiet room and the music got louder as I walked around the corner to find a choir set up in the center of the library. They were preforming a history of America through song, complete with vintage costumes, to a crowd of about 65 people and what looked like professional videographers and a news crew. This couldn't really be happening.

I sprinted to the information desk and asked if there was an unclaimed quiet room on one of the other floors. They found one room that hadn't been claimed for the day. I quickly went back to my computer, told my partner to give me a few minutes to move, and started packing up all of our stuff. Katarina and I ran up three flights of stairs and collapsed in the new quiet room. I turned on the computer, to find that this room was in what seemed to be an internet black hole. I got enough of a connection to pull up the video conference and confirm that there was no way this was going to work. I needed to be downstairs where the internet connection was stronger.

Trying to salvage this long-planned recording, I sent Katarina downstairs to ask the information desk how long the choir performance was going to last. She arrived back at the quiet room to tell me they were gone. "Totally gone. The signs have been taken down, there is no sound equipment or costumed singers. Even the film crews have disappeared. It is like they were never there."

"Give me five more minutes to move back downstairs and we will make this happen," I told my very patient partner.

We repacked our stuff, ran down three flights of stairs, and headed towards our original quiet room. As I turned the corner, one of the librarians stopped me. "I saw y'all run out of here when the choir came. Sorry about all the noise. I know you are trying to work today, so I thought I would catch you before you go back there, to let you know that we have a Super Hero party scheduled to start in seven minutes, and it is being held right outside the quiet rooms."

Dejected I walked into the quiet room, fired up the computer, connected to my video conference and shared the latest update. The super heroes were on their way and there would be no quiet in the library that day. To which my video partner replied, "Super hero party? What kind of library is this? I've never been in such a loud library in my whole life."

"I know. They need one of those stereotypical old lady librarians with a bun and little glasses to come out here and shush everyone."

I rescheduled our conference with a promise to secure a recording location that was less of a circus and called Thomas to pick us up. I was officially giving up on the library. While I waited, I stopped by the information desk one last time to ask about all of the events that day, "Is this normal?"

"We have a pretty busy schedule during the summer. Here is a calendar with all of our events for the next two months. You might want to check it out before setting up work time here." with that he handed me a thick schedule of events with pages full of descriptions of reading programs, robot camps, community events, kids activities, author interviews, movie screenings, science presentations, art shows, computer classes, and more.

I'm torn between being angry at my library for being a loud circus when I needed it, and being so very excited that I have the best library long as you aren't looking for a quiet space to study or work during the summer months.


  1. Our library is most definitely similar during the summer months. So like you, I realized pretty quickly I wouldn't be getting any work done there either. Instead I go there now with my girls for these activities so at least they can enjoy them. I guess in the end, I have decided if I can't beat them, I could at least join them ;)

  2. I need to come visit your library, pretty sure I need to attend a super hero party. But my book and library loving heart feels your frustration at the lack of the quiet that we've come to associate with and expect from the library. I hope that work call worked out for you, few things make me more frustrated to be in a groove, or have a plan, and have it all derailed.

    Love you lady!

  3. As a mom.who tried to work from home, too, been there! This story made me giggle. Also, I completely look to our library for entertainment. It does seem like a weird new thing!

  4. This story was even better heard in person. Only Tracie can get her work day handed to her by The Cat in the Hat, Captain America and Lady Liberty all in one day. PS: The Wizard Lizard is the Orlando animal sponsor thing. They are all over our city. I once ran around downtown Orlando taking pictures with as many as I could find.

  5. Tracie, I fell off my couch laughing at this. I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh at your troubles, but you made them sound funny.

  6. I am cracking up. Seriously. I came by to see if you'd posted in a while because this summer was the summer of me being mia - and then I found this. Good lordy - what a LOUD library. Sounds so wrong. ;) Glad you got *some* work done!