Letter to the Editor: Quiet Study Zones Should Stay Quiet

Josef Porcina

Student’s studying in the library’s “quiet study zone” often find that the space is not so quiet. (Joseph Keller)

You may have noticed those “quiet study zone” signs around the library, but—if you’re like a lot of people—you walked right by them and joined in on a conversation with your friends.

The quiet study environment has the perfect acoustics for engaging in a group discussion, or studying silently. Fortunately for groups, they can reserve private study room using their smart device or the computer at the librarian’s desk so as not to disrupt the students around them. It can be difficult to remain productive and achieve your academic goals while enduring distractions such as noise pollution.

Within the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health internet database is a research article titled “The Association Between Noise Exposure And Blood Pressure And Ischemic Heart Disease: A Meta-Analysis”. In its summary, the article reads: “with respect to the association between noise exposure and blood pressure, we noticed small blood pressure differences.”

The group observed that there is a quantifiable physiological effect to noise pollution—the louder the decibel level of the sound being heard, the higher the listener’s blood pressure.

There have been many studies conducted by the Acoustical Society of America which analyzed students’ average test scores while working under different decibel levels. They found that students perform best with minimal background sounds, such as papers rustling and people whispering, which are around 30 decibels. Performance starts to decrease at around 40 decibels, and a normal conversation being had about five feet away is around 60 decibels. Studies have repeatedly shown that, as the background noise decibel level increases, test score performance decreases.

We know intuitively that stress negatively affects our ability to focus. As university students we ask ourselves, ‘How can we escape the everyday noise pollution that surrounds us?’ If only there were some refuge to shelter us from the ubiquitous monsoon of distractions!

The KPU Library has released a document detailing their approach to Noise & Disruptive Behaviour. An excerpt reads, “As far as possible, areas where normal speech is required are distanced or separated from quiet study areas. The areas set aside for reading and quiet study are clearly marked with signs.”

It is with these study zones that students are able to quietly focus on academia. Please, respect the university policy and the students in the quiet study zones.