Library Etiquitte



Kelly Skahan

As second semester classes gain speed and homework, papers and projects pile up, more and more students flock to Falvey Memorial Library, a sanctuary for those seeking a quiet place to focus and work. But as research techniques move further from books and periodicals to Internet encyclopedias and databases, it has become clear that times are changing at the library. With those changes, students must take into account a whole new set of manners and etiquette.

“The general atmosphere of the library is a bit complex,” says Theresa Edge, a team leader for User Assistance and Access at Falvey Memorial Library. “We take pride in providing a shared space on campus – on being the university ‘living room,’ if you will.”

Edge says that students are typically fairly considerate of one another, particularly when they’re waiting for a computer.

“Unfortunately, students do often have a wait time to either use a computer or to retrieve their print jobs,” she says, “But they are usually very patient and courteous to each other during that process.”

Students and staff at the library are typically very tolerant of student groups and meetings, particularly on the first floor, where Edge says the volume is the highest.

“In general, the first floor and the coffee lounge are noisier and more social than the other floors,” she says. “We do still need to maintain space for quiet study on the upper floors.”

Generally, though, students pay attention to the unwritten rule that the higher the floor in the library, the more intense the study environment and the less tolerant others are of noisy conversations. While the first floor generally welcomes group meetings and projects, the second, third and fourth floors are areas where the climate is much quieter.

“I like the differences,” junior Katie Dowd says. “Usually I study on the third floor because it’s really quiet, but I find the fourth floor a little intimidating since even unzipping your backpack gets you evil glares.”

For those meaning to chat or meet briefly with a group, it’s generally safer to stay on the ground floor. “You can talk on the first floor but not on the other floors,” sophomore Ashley Flanders says.

“I find it’s better for me to work in my room where I won’t be distracted by my friends,” says freshman Kate Traynor, expressing the concerns of many students who prefer the friendly environment on the first floor but don’t find it particularly conducive to studying.

One of the most significant challenges to studying on the upper floors, especially as technology advances, is the use of cell phones. Even the most inoffensive ringtone can be piercing when it breaks the silence of an intense study environment, a situation Edge says can be easily remedied.

“We just need to have our users take their cell phone conversations to the stairwells so they are not disruptive to others,” she says.

Another way to be more considerate in the library relates to the new turnstiles. Getting WildCards ready ahead of time can make the process run more smoothly.

While earlier in the semester there was conflict among library users over whether those entering or exiting should receive priority in line, students have recently come to the unspoken agreement that the turnstile nearest the reference desk is for exiting, with the remainder devoted to entering. Students should also remember that the library is doing everything it can to make the system more efficient.

“We were able to shorten the ‘lag time’ the system requires between card swipes, and that has improved the speed of entry to the library,” Edge says.

She also has tips for those in a rush. “My advice to students trying to get through the turnstile more quickly is, ironically, to be a bit slower,” Edge says. “The card readers do not work with a quick swipe, resulting in the need to repeat the action. A somewhat slow, deliberate swipe from front to back will most often work on the first try.”

As far as eating goes, the general consensus is that as long as it’s not bothering anyone, it’s okay. Still, nobody wants to study in the mess left behind by another student, so it’s often best to keep snacks on the ground floor.

“I would assume most students eat in Holy Grounds, since it’s in the library,” Traynor says.

Overall, students at the library are typically on a mission to get their work done and understand that others are there to do the same. By keeping up with library etiquette, they can expedite the homework process and make the ordeal easier for their fellow students as well.

Edge has high hopes for students at the library, noting that people are typically fairly courteous.

“The climate varies in each part of the building,” she says. “But I think that students are definitely considerate of one another most of the time.”