Quiet in the library?

In an article in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education, Jennifer Howard reports that libraries, while traditionally thought of as quiet spaces, have actually come full circle in the past few years. The combination of group work and technology have made the library a noisier place, and some academic libraries have established official quiet zones and, at Agnes Scott College, even have a space where iPads and laptops are not allowed–at the request of the students. Apparently some people type very aggressively.

The full article (available to NMU faculty, staff, and students–you will be asked to authenticate if you’re off-campus) is available here: http://chronicle.com/article/At-Libraries-Quiet-Makes-a/132885/

Olson Library has been adding more comfortable furniture in recent years in order to emphasize the library as a comfortable place to study. In the current heat wave, it’s also nice to know that the library is air-conditioned! We have no official quiet zone, however, although the third floor is, as a rule, much quieter than the second floor, and there are study rooms available for students who want to get away from distractions or work in small groups. Our current Code of Conduct states that patrons should feel free to ask others to keep the noise level down (although some areas of the library will always be noisier than others, simply because of the traffic). If you aren’t comfortable asking someone else to keep it down, please ask someone at the Public Services Desk to do that for you.

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2 Responses to Quiet in the library?

  1. Jim Pierce says:

    “Olson Library has been adding more comfortable furniture in recent years in order to emphasize the library as a comfortable place to study.”

    Yes, and at what cost? Throwing away half the Shakespeare criticism?

    Wowee zowee.

    • mfreier says:

      Yes, we have been weeding the collection, beginning with a list of materials that have not been checked out or even removed from the shelves in ten years. Many of these items were actually returned to the shelves after they were examined; if the item is current and is not readily available through MeLCat, we keep it, even though our users have not expressed any interest in it. We do not “throw away” the items that we decide not to keep; we send them to Better World Books, a company that resells them, sending a portion of the proceeds to the donor libraries, and another portion to literacy programs worldwide. This system allows us to get a little money for items that are literally only taking up space, as well as liberating them for purchase by someone who actually wants them and might use them.

      We are not a research library. In fact, our collection development policy is quite clear that our priority is collecting materials supporting the teaching curriculum. We are not a warehouse for the record of human thought and achievement; we leave that to such places as the libraries of the University of Michigan, which have a budget more conducive to purchasing and maintaining a large collection, as well as supporting the other library needs of their patrons. Our patrons need places to study and conduct their scholarly work, as well as spaces to meet in small groups to work on projects. Removing unused or outdated materials to make room for those spaces is simply our way of supporting our university’s mission as best we can.

      If you are a member of the NMU community (student, faculty, or staff), and there are materials that you believe should be added to the collection (or that you believe were removed in error), please use our online purchase recommendation forms.

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