It’s midterm time here on Main Campus, which means that numerous people invade my secret lair, Paley Library. This leads to people doing very obnoxious and disrupting things because they don’t know how to behave in the library.
Therefore, I’ve compiled a guide to library etiquette for the misguided and sleep-deprived students who seek peace and solitude during exams in this study sanctuary, starting from the basement and working my way up.
In the basement is Media Services, where pretty much anything flies. Here you can rent DVDs of all sorts for free. There are some couches which you can study on if you can’t find anywhere else to go, but background noise is permitted so it might be hard to concentrate.
Social interaction is also perfectly acceptable on the main floor. But be aware of the “quiet zone” on the left. The quiet zone isn’t tightly enforced, and people are prone to run into people they know and start talking. It isn’t acceptable to ask them to be quiet, and you’ll probably receive many glares for doing so. If you really need absolute silence, it’s best to continue up those stairs.
The mezzanine, the balcony overlooking the main floor, is like the Narnia of the library. It’s a magical place, but only for librarians and hardcore researchers. Unless you need a rare book or artifact to study for research, I suggest staying away from that floor. Leave it to the pros.
The second floor is for “quiet discussions,” which kind of sounds like a harlequin romance novel. Although, if you’re into that kind of thing, I would check the main floor. If you want to study with friends, or eat a noisy snack while you read or listen to music on your headphones, this is the place to do it. Just don’t, under any circumstances, do those things in the far corners of the floor. These areas are for silence only. You can’t hear the people talking or eating from the middle and front of the floor. It’s so secluded that there isn’t even a wireless signal. The people who go to those corners to read silently consider that space sacred. They will not hesitate to clear their throat loudly in a passive-aggressive manner or blatantly tell you to shut up and go to the discussion section of the library.
The third floor is for silent studying only. Don’t bring a friend there, unless you don’t actually like them and are trying to avoid talking. Even though there are rooms in the back that are for group studying, don’t use them unless you are going to be quiet because they do not block sound inside or out. Don’t answer your phone. Take it out to the elevator section if the call is important. Don’t eat noisy food or meals with an obnoxious odor. Don’t listen to music or anything that produces noise on your laptop unless you have really good headphones that do not leak sound.
All of these things I’ve discerned from my own personal experiences of spending countless days in Paley trying to find peace and quiet to study. Most of the rules I’ve outlined aren’t official. They’re just guidelines of etiquette so you know how not to be a disruptive jerk in the library. Follow them and maybe you’ll avoid being scolded for speaking loudly while listening to loud music and calling your aunt about a big plate of lo-mein on the third floor of the library.
Bridget Farraday can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.