Library seeks to stop ‘insanity’

If you happened to be studying in the Bailey/Howe Library last spring, you may have come across a girl heating up her soup on the third floor or a guy skateboarding over your philosophy paper. For the first time, the library is initiating new policies to enforce peace and quiet, Dean of Library & Information Services Mara Saule said. “Two years ago was the climax of insanity,” Head of the Circulation Department Angus Robertson said.                                                                                          The library is looking to take a step away from the skateboarders, bike riders and delivery pizza orders of past years, Robertson said. The second and third floors are now designated for silent study, cell phones are allowed in the café and lobby only, and food and drink are permitted everywhere, Saule said. To enforce these changes, current staff members will issue “walk-throughs” to amp up faculty presence, Assistant to Dean for External Relations Selene Colburn said. A survey taken in Spring 2009 sparked policy changes when some students admitted to not being able to work in the library because of the noise, Saule said. “Have you tried to work in there? It’s a zoo!” a note left in the survey read. Overall, students have been gracious and compliant when corrected, and many are happy to see library staff enforcing quiet, Saule said. “As long as you’re using your phone reasonably I don’t have a problem with it, but I can definitely see where faculty may need to step in to encourage silence,” senior Evan Salzberg said. Students deserve a quiet space, “a safe environment away from the big, noisy world,” Robertson said. The overall layout of the library is not ideal for a quiet atmosphere, as noise travels easily, so renovation is also being considered, Robertson said. The library at the University of Massachusetts is being considered as a possible model. The renovation would entail information commons, learning commons, a writing center and academic support services, Saule said. The change has just begun and faculty members are eager to hear back from students. If you have any complaints or suggestions, contact Selene Colburn, assistant to dean for External Relations, at [email protected]