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Back in the days when I was a middle school teacher (1970s) I took a 
course to learn about the needs and conditions of special education 
children. In the class it was explained how the sound of a clock 
ticking in a classroom or water dripping outside from a gutter could 
sound like Big Ben or Niagara Falls to children with various auditory 
conditions. From that point on I implemented an expectation (not a 
rule) that when my classes had group work, they needed to use what I 
called "short voices."

Now that I work in a high school library I implement the same 
expectation. I model it in orientations and make sure students 
understand that "short voices" allow them to communicate, yet they 
won't be interfering with the need others may have to concentrate on 
their reading or whatever they may be doing. I find most teachers 
support this expectation. I have had a couple who think "short 
voices" is a restrictive expectation, and have chosen not to return 
to the library. (When I visit their classroom to troubleshoot a 
computer or printer situation, I realize I could not learn in the 
environment they allow.)

I do have to remind students about "short voices" on occasion, but 
most understand how reasonable the request is, and deal well with it.

Our library doesn't need to be silent, but it should meet the needs 
of those who expect an atmosphere where they can concentrate.

Frank Moore, Librarian/Technologist, M.Ed., MLIS
North Myrtle Beach High School
3750 Sea Mountain Highway
Little River, SC, USA

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