Library etiquette

All you need to know about food, drink, talking and cell phones in the Meriam Library

The traditional “no talking–no eating” rule that has plagued library users for centuries is going the way of the card catalog.

Regulations on talking, food and drink and cell-phone use in the new Meriam Library Public Use Policy are geared toward providing an environment accommodating a variety of study habits.

“Different strokes for different folks” applies to library use as much as everything else, and the library recognizes that not everybody studies in the same way. Some students like it quiet, while others concentrate better with a bit of chatting. Group conversation may be necessary for boning up on some assignments, while any noise at all may bother others in deep concentration.

Students who need or want absolute silence can find it on the third floor, where no talking whatsoever is still the rule.

Students who need to speak with others while studying or simply work best studying in a group with occasional conversation may do so on the first, second and fourth floors, where “quiet collaborative” study is OK. Talking must be kept within reason and not be loud enough to disturb folks sitting more than a table away.

If you need to ham it up just a bit more, group study rooms are available—on a first-come, first-served basis—on the second and third floors. Groups of four or more have priority. Close the door and a modicum of animated conversation is appropriate, like working up a class presentation before a few class buddies, just as long as it can’t be heard beyond the room.

Cell phones may be used only in the first-floor lobby. Cell phones and pagers must be turned off or set to inaudible settings throughout the library except in the first-floor lobby. Patrons trying to study do not want to hear your phone conversation nor be disturbed by phones and pagers ringing and buzzing. If you want to use a telephone elsewhere than the first-floor lobby, pay phones are located on the first, second and third floors, and free on-campus “red” phones are located on all floors.

Studying make you hungry? Students may spend a lot of time in the library, and burning brain cells does burn calories. Appetites can’t be checked at the door. Drinks and light snacks may be just the thing for that adrenaline fix needed to make one more exercise in logic seem logical. Light snacks are OK. Think of eating in terms of munching rather than lunching. Nothing too heavy. No complete meals, like chicken, pasta or tacos, and nothing too greasy like French fries. Leave the burgers and anything with a smell tantalizing to others outside.

Photo By Tom Angel

Sweets, fruits and chips are OK. Don’t even think about a bringing in a pizza or having anything delivered. Keep it pretty much bagged, don’t spread it all over the table, and please, please, please, try not to leave any vestige of what you were eating on whatever you were reading. Remember, somebody else will use that book after you and would rather have it sans ketchup or mustard, unsalted and very dry. And be very careful around computers. Sitting down to a keyboard oozing a slimy mixture of crumbs and soda pop is not a pleasant way to begin the day.

Need a shot of java for late-night cramming or just thirsty in general? Coffee is OK; so is soda, juice, tea or just plain old water. Beverages must be in hard-sided, spill-proof containers such as travel mugs or water bottles. No cans or paper or Styrofoam cups, with or without lids. Drinks may taste better in a “library mug,” which can be purchased for only a buck seventy five at the main circulation desk. And remember, no food or drink at all is allowed in Special Collections on the third floor, and drinks only are allowed in the computer labs on the first and third floors.

Want a beer or a chew? Not in the library, you don’t. Consumption of alcoholic beverages and tobacco use in any form is not allowed. This includes chewing, as that inevitably leads to spitting, and we definitely don’t want that in the library. When it comes to alcohol, the campus is dry, and so is the library.

Like to listen to music while studying? Ear and headphones are OK, but keep it for your ears only with the volume low enough that nobody else can hear it (and keep your eardrums healthy too). Remember that multiple headphones can be connected to players in the nonprint area on the first floor if several folks want to listen together.

Above all, the library is expected to provide a place accommodating to most people most of the time. The rule of thumb is: Acceptable noise levels differ depending upon where you are in the library, but nothing should disturb the ability of others to study and concentrate.

We want to make your studying as productive and pleasurable as possible. We will never be all things to all people. We’re trying our best to provide a setting that will make most library users as comfortable as possible without making anybody too uncomfortable to do their best in using the resources and study areas the library has to offer.

What about enforcement procedures?

If you insist on doing it your own way and refuse to adhere to library policy, you will be politely informed of the policy and asked to comply. Your cooperation will be expected. If you refuse to comply or must be asked a second time, you will be asked to show identification and leave the building. If you refuse, then you’ll be dealing with the university police and Student Judicial Affairs.

When calling your attention to library policy, library staff will be polite to you and will expect the same courtesy from you in return. Don’t mouth off with anything that you might not want to repeat to the police and judicial-affairs officers.

Copies of the Meriam Library Public Use Policy and a brochure on food, drink and noise regulations are available in the library at Main Circulation and the second-floor reference area and under “General Information” from the library’s Research Station Web page.

The library staff welcomes suggestions and will gladly discuss library policies on building use. Please contact Joe Crotts at 6675 or Kathleen Purvis (6727), or drop by Main Circulation and ask for Joe or the periodical reading room on the second floor and ask for Kathleen.