I’ve always loved the peace and quiet of the Wellesley Free Library. The serene atmosphere. The sense of orderliness, with a Dewey-numbered place for everything, and everything in its Dewey-numbered place. It’s a comforting, predictable place where non-fiction means real, and fiction means pretend, and I think we can all agree that we library patrons like it that way.
But there’s a crack in this facade of perfection. Outside, the grounds are manicured. Inside, the paint is freshly touched up, the carpets absorb the noise of footfalls, and the water fountains are in good working order. There’s nothing to fear at our library, unless you choose to scare yourself by checking out a Stephen King novel or a horror movie.
Or unless, you descend the staircase to the very bowels of the library, a place of no books or comfortable chairs. A place where wi-fi service is spotty, if it even exists at all. Yes, I am talking about the garage of the main library, since mid-October a place of cacophony and clamour. Blame it on the birds, and the efforts to remove them. It seems a loosely organized avian flock is squatting in the library garage. Elise MacLennan, Assistant Director of the library, has confirmed that there has been a chronic problem with birds nesting in the Main Library parking garage, and that they flat-out refuse to leave. But the library staff is not taking this intrusion lying down.
In mid-October, the Facilities Maintenance Department helped the library custodial team install two experiments to try and squelch the bird activity. The first was a plastic owl tied to an i-beam near the garage entry. The second was the installation of a speaker/recorder that broadcasts distress calls from sparrows, starlings, and birds of prey. The device is adjustable, and time, volume, and randomness of the calls can be changed periodically. A quick internet search revealed that the cost of such devices is in the $250 – $300 range. See/listen to video below of the one in the Wellesley Free Library garage.
I first noticed the noise device around Halloween and thought for a minute that it was some sort of festive spookiness decoration, like maybe I was supposed to feel like I was in a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. That device scared the heck out of me, so I got out of that garage right away. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the target audience for garage ejection.
Just as unfortunately, the birds seem to haves simply adjusted to the noise, and continue to fly out of the garage every day to run their errands, and fly back in whenever they feel like a little shelter and a nap. The library staff hasn’t given up, though — bird droppings in the garage pose cleaning and public health problems, and the nesting activity does damage to the library building’s soundproofing and insulation.
So for the time being, it’s Birds, 1 point, Library, 0. But don’t rule out the Library yet. This ain’t over.