Airwaves: “Library Voices”

The band Library Voices is from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. They a large ensemble band, formed in 2008, with a mass ranging from 7-10 members at a given time. Their music features vocals and a mix of instruments, such as horns, strings, and accordion.

CLICK HERE to listen

I recently heard a song from this band on the radio, and was quite struck by their name – “library voices.” As libraries increasingly incorporate spaces designated for vocal interaction, collaboration, and workshopping (not always in sound-proofed or removed areas), I wonder what will happen to the cultural norm, practice, or standard of speaking quietly inside such buildings. The colloquialism of being told to use a “library voice,” asking for hushed tones and furtive whispers, seems as if it could become a rhetorical cue of the past. If such transformations of libraries do continue, reconfiguring them into predominantly lively, loud, and boisterous spaces, I wonder what a “library voice” might mean in the future? The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies (2011, edited by Trevor Pinch and Karin Bijsterveld), is a good place to get a grounding in the role that sound plays in the expert realms of science, technology, medicine; however, thinking about more everyday sounds in lay-expert zones (everyday people in libraries full of expert books), appears to be a rich site for future research and engagement as older practices of speaking and listening start to come apart from the buildings and institutions they were once tied to.

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