Sitting silently alone at one of our city's libraries, a young student peruses a voluminous tome, "The History of Rocket Science."

Taking meticulous notes, she has been studying for hours for the final exam tomorrow (the important one).She is tense.. . . She is focused.. . .

She is knocked out of her chair and her notes go flying as a juvenile bat-outta' you know where bumps her and her desk in an intense game of tag he is playing. He announces to his friends and the rest of the library that he is still not "it" and dodges behind a bookshelf.

The librarian never even looked up.

Sound familiar?

Our libraries have become a mall without stores or security guards. The aura that once surrounded a library is gone and replaced with an invitation for anarchy. The ornery and orderly old maid librarian that once ruled with an iron whisper has disappeared into the unread books and Slim Jim commercials.

What happened to the mystique and deference that once gave the library a divine halo and the prioress teaching the sole commandment "quiet, please"?

We are all guilty of perpetuating this barbarism. Each time a hue and cry isn't made about the type of behavior above allows another person to be sucked into the belief that callow conduct is admissible. The young boy who knocked over that girl is surrounded by such people. He is the son of the talkers in the movie cinema, the brother to those adolescents that broadcast their obscene comments to the rest of the art museum, the grandchild of the people who pay to have their driveway shoveled but not their sidewalk, nephew to the woman who chews gum in public like she is mixing concrete and cousin to the girl whose beeper goes off in church.

Poor comportment spreads like the plague, and we all have to pay the price.

This is the type of behavior that schools cannot teach, where religious leaders are helpless and that our other form of social control, the television, ignores. Awareness of the basic rights of others in public places is first taught in the home and secondly, in the forum itself.

When it becomes apparent that parents are not raising their children to act appropriately, then we, the people who get offended, must make it known that such deportment will not be tolerated.

Libraries are places of quiet study, not raucous play. If you find yourself wanting to get your child acquainted with books and the library, then the best of luck to you. But if you others (and you know who you are) decide to let your hyperactive toddler have free rein in there, think again. Perhaps a trip to the Children's Museum or the zoo would be better for younger children. People who enjoy the library will appreciate your consideration.

There is an adage that goes: "If it's too loud, you're too old." In our city's libraries, museums, theatres, churches and other public venues, there is a moral obligation to keep the noise to a minimum and stop these ill-mannered demons. Complain to the librarian, curator or usher. Policymakers can pass laws and librarians can post signs, but they are meaningless if people don't care about them. Go ahead, make the world a better place one mouth at a time.