Ways to Reduce Noise in Libraries
Though libraries are known for their silence, they have several challenges to overcome to remain quiet — including guests with varying work and study habits, lots of furnishings for noise to bounce off of and high ceilings where sound can carry across the building. Soundproofing materials that are built into the walls are one popular approach. But sometimes you need a little more sound reduction, or perhaps the library is already built and you can’t tear down the drywall.
Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize noise in these establishments, many of which don’t require construction.
1. Acoustical Foam
Acoustical foam is a fascinatingly simple approach to sound and reverberations. Essentially, it absorbs the sounds that hit it, minimizing any echoes. This foam is cost-effective and very easy to use, often sitting on top of an existing wall. It’s great for retrofitting your current building with soundproofing measures.
2. Absorption Panels
Simple absorption panels work similarly to acoustical foam in that they can effectively absorb sounds that reach them. They also attach to existing walls and offer a sleek design that can look more like an interior design choice.
3. Soundproof Membranes
Soundproofing membranes are a long-term option you can use during the construction phase of building design. These membranes go inside the walls and are made of Mass Loaded Vinyl, which prevents sounds from traveling through them like a paper-thin apartment wall.
4. Soundproof Curtains
A soundproof curtain is just what it sounds like — a curtain that blocks sounds. These are great for cubby areas and outdoor-facing windows where they can eliminate outside noise. If the library is situated in a busy metro area, soundproof curtains could be a good option to reduce the sounds of the city buzzing by.
5. Door Seals and Sweeps
Libraries typically have a variety of private rooms for people to do group work or use presentation resources. Gaps in the doors of these rooms can allow sound to reach the rest of the library. Door seals and sweeps create tight fits around the edges of a door, so minimal sound escapes through them.
Reasons to Soundproof Your Library
Is it really that big of a deal to make a library quiet? A few noises here and there surely aren’t hurting anyone, right? That may have been the case a few decades ago, but since then, libraries have become bustling hubs for collaboration and technology.
With all these new developments come new noises. People may click away on their laptops, chat with their group partners or scribble down some notes, all of which are sounds that quickly add up when you’re looking for total silence. How can you address these sounds without squashing collaboration or innovation? With soundproofing measures, you can control the sounds in your library and keep group spaces or technology areas from overtaking traditional quiet spaces.
One study conducted at the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick in Ireland showed that library noise reduction measures significantly improved students’ perceptions of quietness. These noise reduction methods didn’t detract from the feel of the library or other important aspects, but greatly boosted the perception of a quiet space. Following soundproofing, student responses on a survey about the library showed the quiet space improved almost twice as much as other most-improved questions and three times as much as the overall library improvement.
Another component of that survey was comments about noise levels. The change in noise was easily perceptible and people were noticing its effects. Comments about the noise went from 35% in 2007 to just 8.6% in 2014, showing that people responded to this change.
Students and people who are working will notice when their workspace is too loud. It’s impossible not to notice the jabber of a crowd doing work next to you or someone clicking loudly on their laptop. Some people say they work better with background noise, but typically it’s only white noise that helps productivity — chatter and conversation tend to be distracting.
Creating soundproof areas and reducing overall library noise allows your visitors to focus, enjoy their time at the library and get more work done.
Best Products for Soundproofing Your Library
When it comes time to soundproof your library, you have a wide array of options. You can install features as you build from the ground up or insert sound-dampening equipment to limit the movement of sound waves without tearing up the walls. Below are some popular products we carry for library soundproofing.
Isotrax™ is a multi-faceted system that goes in before the wall is built. Though the science behind it is a little complex, this system prevents sound waves from traveling through dense materials like drywall and sheetrock and into neighboring spaces. Installation is straightforward and only requires basic construction skills.
With a Quiet Barrier™ system, you can dampen the sounds within a space and keep other sounds from getting in. The Quiet Barrier™ material roll is low-profile, with easy installation and a variety of options. Some of these options are better suited for different types of sounds, but Quiet Barrier™ MD is the best choice for the everyday conversations you’d find in a library.
Our acoustic panels offer a visually appealing soundproofing option. We print your choice of an image onto a piece of fabric with high-quality materials and rich colors and then wrap it around a sound-dampening acoustic panel. We can also use attractive fabrics in place of an image to match your interior decor. These panels look great on the wall or hanging from the ceiling and can help reduce sounds while maintaining the look of the library — whether that’s elegant, fun or something else entirely.
Echo Absorber™ Acoustic Cotton
With a lightweight construction, superior sound-dampening properties and fire code-friendly materials, Echo Absorber™ cotton panels are an excellent, cost-effective way to reduce the sounds in your library. They’re resistant to fungi, mold and mildew and are great for oddly-shaped areas. Plus, they work on all frequencies of sound, often better than other man-made substances.
Purchase Your Library Soundproofing Products at Soundproof Cow
If your library is getting a little too loud for your visitors’ tastes or you want to make sure a new construction is as quiet as possible, you need soundproofing products you can trust. After all, if you install ineffective soundproofing materials in a wall, it’s not exactly an easy fix if they don’t work.
At Soundproof Cow, we carry an array of high-performing acoustic materials for library use. Our products are backed by plenty of satisfied customers, and if you’re not sure where to start, we can help. Get in touch with our herd if you need some help or check out our online selection of library soundproofing supplies today.
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