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Ahem, Be Quiet: Proper Etiquette


This week’s question: For the regular library patrons among us: do you have your own idea of what constitutes proper library etiquette? Is there anything you always try to do? Anything you hate when others do?

I love this question. I can go on all day talking about people’s behaving inappropriately and indecently at the library. Have you seen these peel-and-stick cellphone citations and parking citations? I would like to have one made for library patrons.

Cell phones. People should never talk on the cellphones in libraries, museums, and bookstores. Keeping a low volume is not an alternative. I was taught to always be quiet and mindful of others in a library when I was a little boy. Library is a place for research and reading. I hate it when people treat libraries like shopping malls, walking through the aisles talking on the phone. I am not shy to tell people to take their conversation outside.

Soliciting. I understand the library is a public venue that makes information accessible to everyone. I don’t like people hogging the computer terminals all day. People who plug in and charge all their electronic gadgets at the study tables annoy me. People who groom and wash their hair in the bathroom creep me out.

Books on Shelves. For those who do not know the proper etiquette with books on the stacks, you are not supposed to reshelve them. Library clerks often have to conduct something called “shelf reading” to make books are shelved in correct order of the call number. A misshelved book is just as lost as a missing one. Leave the books on the trucks parked on the aisle.

Most of my gripes and pet peeves are about noise in library. Now you have to deal with those annoying texting singals and alert ringers. Libraries should make people check in their cell phones until they are through with the research. I know I sound very harsh and crazy but any activities other than reading, book-related research, and study hall should be curbed inside the library.

29 Responses

  1. I was nodding my head the whole time while reading your answer, Matt! 😛 So true! And I can’t believe some parents didn’t stop their children from running about in the libraries, after all they are not playgrounds.

  2. WHY do people reshelve books themselves? And then I can’t find them anywhere! Drives me batty. I also do not like it when librarians make judgmental remarks about the things I am checking out. When I was in college, a librarian asked me if I was OLD ENOUGH to be reading Catch-22 as he remembered that it had some pretty mature themes. So patronizing.

    • Some do it out of a good heart, without knowing that a book can be lost if not shelved correctly. I haven’t encountered any patronizing librarians, but I share your frustration. 🙂

  3. Our library is downtown Orlando, so we get a huge contingent of homeless that hang out there. Yes, they bathe in the bathrooms. I make my son come in the ladies one with me. I always silence my phone, and I don’t notice too much rudeness from others. One time my daughter came in with me with her Heely’s on (tennis shoes with the wheels) and she got yelled at. Oops!

  4. homeless people bathing in the restroom…no, that is not good.
    happily, my branch is too small to have that issue.

    people just need to be considerate. but that seems to be too much for a lot of people.

    • Unfortunately, public libraries in big cities tend to have similar issues with people grooming in restrooms. It’s beyond what libraries can do.

  5. Enjoy your snow! We are expecting a nasty snow storm here in West Michigan.

    I completely agree with everything you’ve said! Love the cell phone citations.

  6. I completely agree – especially with your point about mobile phones!

  7. i agree with almost everything you said. i would never part with my phone! no matter what the stakes were.

    100% understand about the folks showering and whatnot in the library. the one in downtown seattle is so beautiful except sometimes… you can’t find a seat because folks are sleeping there. 😦

  8. I think you need to post an example of the cell-phone citation!

  9. Completely with you with regards mobile phones. If you wanna chat, then go outside. And it drives me batty when idiots don’t turn their mobile phones onto vibrate only and the relative silence is broken by an ear-splitting wail of some kind of tune or a recording of some child telling the fuckwit (excuse my French) to hurry up and answer the phone or something equally stupid .

    • Thank you. 🙂 I am so fed up with the loud ringers that pierces the silence of library. if people cannot abide by the rules and help maintain a peaceful, quiet environment for study and reading that is so rare now in our society, then simply don’t go into library.

  10. Hi this is my first post here! I agree that the library is a place of respect and people should be mindful of their noise. I wanted to see what you thought about a phenomenon I noticed at a University I attended for grad school where the library encourages students to come as a sort of hangout place and generally to get students to use the library. They offer coffee and cookies and set up tables for group use and devote floors in the stacks for group study. This contributes to lots of noise. I am not a librarian but I think their motives are in the right place, but at what expense to a nice quiet place for reading, reflection, and study?

    • One of the libraries on campus puts tables and chairs on the deck where people can eat and hang out. But inside? At UC Berkeley, study hall and reading areas are separate. Conversation carried out in reasonable volume is allowed in library lobby and internet/catalogue areas. Cell phone usage is discouraged.

  11. Ugh, tell me about it. My city’s library allows unrestricted food and talking in the largest areas. So annoying. So I sit in the “old” building with the purple rinse brigade just to get some peace and quiet.
    Yeah, the washing thing is creepy. When I worked at MIT there were people who bathed in the restrooms regularly. Gross.

    • I once spotted this person eating enchiladas in study cubicles. That explains the occasionally greasy table tops in study hall. I tend to avoid the restroom in public library now because they smell rancid.

  12. I hate people who use cell phones in the library. I want to shove it in their ear!!! Right now our public library has a lot of homeless people who gather there during the day…their only source of sanctuary at times I think. I hate it when people put back books in the wrong place. Right now I have a book, “Edmund Fitzgerald,” that’s been lost in my non-fiction section for several months!!!

    • people either don’t care or just are upright rude to talk on the phones in the library. I am surprised how so many people don’t know they are not supposed to put books back on the shelf after use.

  13. I’ll be the cranky person and disagree with you on cell phones. Get over it. If people can have a conversation at the library, they can have it over a cell phone.

  14. Oh, this is a very dangerous topic for me to broach – I could be here all day!

    I so wish we could take cell phones away from people when they enter the library. And the ring tones are louder and more annoying than the conversations themselves, particularly when they ignore the phone, which they often do. By the way, we do not allow cell phone usage in our library and have signs posted everywhere to that effect, but of course, 9 times out of 10 they are ignored.

    Here’s something else I’d like to know: when did the common polite practice of pushing in your chair after vacating it become obsolete? No one does that anymore! It’s a little pet peeve of mine as I’m constantly going around the library pushing chairs back in.

    And don’t even get me started on the parents who let their kids run wild and treat the library like a McDonald’s playland!

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