Quiet in the Library: An Evidence-Based Approach to Improving the Student Experience


This article deals with the management of noise in an academic library by outlining an evidence-based approach taken over seven years by the University of Limerick in the Republic of Ireland. The objective of this study was to measure the impact on library users of noise management interventions implemented from 2007 to 2014 through retrospective analysis of LibQUAL+® survey data. The data indicate that readers’ perceptions of the provision of quiet space in the library greatly improved in that period. The study provides evidence showing the effectiveness of interventions, such as the development of a noise policy, zoning, rearranging of furniture, removal of service points from reader spaces, and structural improvements. There is evidence to indicate that the creation of a separate graduate reading room may be an effective noise management intervention not previously identified in the literature. Academic libraries struggling with noise problems and those with low scores on the LibQUAL+® quiet space question may find some helpful interventions that have an underlying evidence base to indicate their effectiveness when dealing with noise and the provision of quiet space.