Two Concerns About Ellis Library
I adore the library. And I always have. Going there is like going home for me, and I feel very lucky to have such a monolithic research tool at my disposal in these decidedly midwestern climes. However, I have a had more than a few perturbing experiences while patronizing Ellis as of late, and before I decide to give up on the library altogether as a place where the rude and self-serving of campus go to practice their social networking skills and pursue their vicarious lives, I would like to make these grievances known to you. First of all, if your security staff is going to so exuberantly enjoy their (very important) responsibilities as liaison between students, books, and beverages, etc., I propose that they be given a course in what constitutes rude conduct and what does not. As a barista of 10 years experience, and subsequently, someone with plenty of harrowing tales of interacting with the general public and “dirty masses”, I find it disturbing that if my cup is “inappropriate”, I should be barked at to throw it away or to walk around the other side of the building without so much as a flitter of eye contact or nod to my humanity. Now, let me make myself perfectly clear. I am NOT saying that your rules for cups are ridiculous. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve had to swear under my breath and pursue my document elsewhere because somebody’s grande skinny latte or 40 ounce bottle of Olde English was spilled all over the very page that I needed to read. However, when humbly requesting that somebody rid themselves of their potentially damaging refreshment before entering the library, I request a baseline of respect as well. Seriously. I wouldn’t think of speaking to a stranger in the manner that I was spoken to this morning. (How much of my tuition goes towards paying their wages, again? And how in the world do such people get hired in the first place?) And onwards towards my most ambivalent point of contention: Facebook in the library. Ok. I understand that online interaction is gradually replacing such outdated modes of communication such as CONVERSATION, PHONE CALLS, or, God, forbid, LETTER WRITING. However, I can’t tell you the number of times that I have had a paper to write, research to be done, emails to fire off, documents to print, and have been thwarted again and again from doing these things because of the droves of kids on Facebook playing Farmville. And, incidentally, your library staff has never been particularly helpful in making research the decided priority of Ellis’ computers. Instead, I have too often been told to wait for assistance, and after an hour or an hour and a half passes, I just give up. I’ve asked for people to move, go elsewhere, give me two seconds to print something, etc, and all I typically receive in turn are the vacant, glazed over stares of those living in a spurious, pixelated wonderland. I feel that it would be entirely appropriate for the library to block the use of Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter on its computers completely.The library is a house of learning and research, not one for banal social interaction. And to be honest, I am terribly angry, hurt, and spurned whenever I’m kept from my academic pursuits by such activities, and even more so when the librarians themselves refuse to enforce the 8.5X11 sign that reads, “Research is a Priority on This Computer”. I’m honestly considering pursuing this measure beyond just writing an email to the suggestion box. I feel that it is a real problem that needs to be addressed in an effective way, and I hope you will take this account very seriously. This email was not meant to be particularly subversive, sardonic, or condescending. If you have found it as such, rest assured, it’s merely a product of my frustration with more than a dozen bad experienced this week. I appreciate your time and concern, and look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you for your comments. They have been passed on to the appropriate department heads. In regard to your first comment, our security staff have a difficult task because they are asked to enforce the rules, which is rarely a fun job. But we do expect them to do so in a respectful manner. The head of Security has received this e-mail. We continue to work on proper training of our security staff, most of whom are student workers, and so it is helpful to know that more training may be needed. In regard to your second post, awhile back we posted on every computer that research users had priority over recreational users. When we noticed students waiting around for computers, we made a public request to everyone that any recreational users needed to yield their computer to those waiting. The problem was we never knew if those waiting to use the computers intended to do research or wanted recreational usage, and we could not determine what, exactly, is recreational usage. For example, some professors are asking students to use Facebook for instructional purposes. These are very subjective decisions, and we found these judgment calls too difficult to determine. All of those signs have since been removed. One thing we did achieve, however, is to limit the computer usage to our guest users to only two hours per day — and we often encourage them to come at our less congested times. Another option to consider, is to check out one of our twenty or so laptops located at the Circulation/Reserve Desk. Students may check these out for two hours, and they often do so when the floor computers are full. We wish we had enough computers for all our users. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources or space in the library for this, so we try to spread out the computer usage to non-peak times and encourage students to use our laptops. Again, we appreciate your feedback and hope that this answers some of your concerns.