In these days of tests and the preparation for tests, the Library has become a place of unwonted interest. It is the Mecca of all students, both the wise and those desirous of being so; and to it the faithful make regularly their diurnal pilgrimage. Only twice throughout the long year is Widener so popular; and its marble steps brace themselves joyously to meet the tread of passing hundreds.
Some, whose acquaintance with libraries is strictly limited, are deceived by the popularity of the reading room. They see a great many men, perhaps a few acquaintances. They are overwhelmed with the carnival spirit. It seems to them a festive time, an occasion for jubilation and talk.
You can see them at any table. You can hear them through the length of the hall. They fraternally greet all whom they see, and hold long-winded conversations over all subjects from politics to the moon. Sometimes a group will gather and an amateur forum is organized, like nothing so much in the broad world as a Ladies Aid Society holding a sewing bee. To the weary and unwilling listener to these parleys it seems strange that so much wisdom could be contained in so small a space. Surely Diogenes and his tub had nothing on a few loquacious spirits and their library.
The social spirit is excellent in many ways. But like all good things, it has its times and its occasions. The study hours in the Library are never the time nor the occasion. The Union was founded as a club for all men, where they can talk or argue or whisper. The street corner are free. There is the whole broad outdoors. The silence of the Library should be sacred.