With the end of the semester upon us, the library is a busy place, filled with students putting in long hours writing papers and studying for exams.
Like many libraries, we are having problems keeping the place clean: students bring food into the library when they are not supposed to, bring in drinks that are not in sealed containers, and leave their garbage everywhere. The only fans of this behaviour are the mice, who have reemerged to feast on all the food left behind by the students. Once the food is gone, they will likely start in on the books.
(There is a reason why these policies are in place. We are not just trying to be difficult.)
While the cleaning staff try to stay on top of the problem, it would be far better if students could be made to understand and respect the policies in the first place.
To that end, I am calling on librarians everywhere to pull yourself away from the Internet and take a few minutes every day at different times of the day to take a stroll around your library and ensure that your policies regarding food, drink, and general proper use of the library are being respected.
If know it is difficult to confront a patron who isn't respecting your policies, but instead of thinking about the one person who will be put out because they not be able to eat their carrots or drink from an open cup, think about the 30 students sitting around them who can't get any work done because said individual is too busy crunching and slurping away. Think of the student who needs to read The donut: a Canadian history but can't because some inconsiderate soul spilled coffee all over the library's copy. Think of the student who won't go to the library any more after being surrounded by a gang of ravenous mice!!!
OK, maybe the last one it a bit farfetched, but you get the idea. As librarians, we have an obligation to current and future patrons to preserve the library's collection, facilities, and environment. It may seem very 'old school' to walk around making sure that everything is as it should be, but it needs to be done.
If you are a librarian and won't be taking part in my call to action, I would be interested in knowing why. Do you not have time to keep an eye on the library? Is reprimanding students frowned upon by your library? Is it someone else's job? Should it be someone else's job? Or do you disagree with the library's policies and refuse to enforce them as a matter of principle? Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.