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by Jason Herring

Library etiquette lacking on campus

By Jason Herring, November 5, 2015 —

The University of Calgary’s Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) is well-equipped for students to study or work on assignments and papers. The entire library stays open until 11:00 p.m. each day, its upper floors are designated as quiet study spaces and over 200 computers are available for students to use.

All of this sounds great in principle. But many students who make use of the TFDL’s resources are totally oblivious to basic library etiquette. Most of the rules I expect my fellow students to conform to aren’t explicit, but it’s not unreasonable to ask that these unwritten guidelines be upheld.

First, students shouldn’t use computers in the TFDL if they’re not doing work, especially if the library is packed. A lot of the time there’s more than enough computers to go around. But it can be difficult to find a free seat during midterms and towards the middle of the day. It’s infuriating to walk by someone who’s watching Netflix when you need to study. The library is not an acceptable place to play League of Legends.

But while wasting a machine by goofing off is bad, claiming computers when you’re not even around is worse. I understand people need to use the washroom or grab a coffee from downstairs — we’re all human.
But I’ve sat next to a computer claimed by a backpack and strewn papers for over an hour too many times to count. There’s no excuse for that.

The TFDL has signs stating that workstations will be cleaned up after half an hour of inactivity, but with the amount of bags I’ve seen left alone for longer than that, I don’t believe it.

Perhaps the most absurd misuse of computer space I’ve seen at the TFDL was a student who was sat in front of a computer but used his laptop instead. I regret not giving him a piece of my mind every passing day.

This lack of library manners extends beyond computers. I don’t think there’s a single time when I’ve studied on the upper floors of the TFDL and not been driven mad by someone’s nearby whispered conversation. Maybe they think they’re being quiet enough that no one can hear them, but not bothering to walk to the stairwell to take a phone call is just disrespectful. 

And talking isn’t the only unacceptable behaviour on those quiet floors. You can wait until after you’ve left the library to eat your apple or bag of ruffled chips. And for Christ’s sake, don’t cut your fingernails in public.

There’s plenty of other places to do work on campus, but none offer the same accessibility to high-quality computers for all students. And some students specifically require TFDL computers for free access to sites so they can complete assignments.

Behaviour like this at any university study space is selfish and disrespectful. I expect better from the students I share these facilities with.

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