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January 11, 2012 / playforth

Seven deadly library sins

While we’re on the subject of etiquette…

I’m not your prehistoric/mythical breed of stern librarian, and if I’m a gatekeeper of knowledge, the gate is wide open with some pretty roses round it and a welcoming smell of freshly freed information inside. I think it’s fine and dandy to have a coffee shop in a library (or even a library in a coffee shop), a comfy sofa or two and a liberal attitude towards mobile phones.

BUT I also believe in the virtues of politeness and thoughtfulness, especially in large public/shared spaces, and while throwing out the old library rule book might be good for learning, innovation, democracy, equality and coffee retailers, we shouldn’t throw out the unwritten rules of respect and common sense with it.  So, library users (whether public, academic or other), please avoid committing any of the following deadly sins:

Marginalia1. Writing in the books. Don’t do this. Ever. Not even in pencil. Or invisible ink. We really hate it, and so does the person who borrows the book after you.

2. Hiding the books. We WANT to help you find stuff, it’s kind of our thing, you know? And you can help US by not hiding/moving the books in a cunning bid to have exclusive access.

3. Otherwise messing with the books. Don’t turn the pages into complex origami, rip them out, or leave your post-its, bookmarks or crumbs in them. (I seem to remember my mum telling me she found a rasher of bacon in a library book once.) Speaking of which…

4. Antisocial eating. Every library has different rules regarding consumption of food and drink, but I’m pretty sure none of us think a garlicky kebab is a welcome addition to the ambience.

5. Antisocial phone use. Banning mobiles is soon going to be unworkable and counter-productive, if it’s not already, given that so many people use their smartphones to access and manage information. But is it really necessary to have that discussion about tonight’s dinner RIGHT NOW?

6. Wasting paper and/or copyright violation. Double check what you are printing and how many copies. Learn how to use the copy machine. Don’t print out or photocopy whole books – it’s expensive, environmentally naughty, and (unfortunately) almost always illegal.

7. Lack of appreciation for staff. Be nice to us and we will be nice to you. We do more than stamp books and collect fines (which, contrary to popular belief, we don’t spend on staff jollies and biscuits). Love your library and it will love you back!

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One Comment

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  1. AceFlush / Jul 7 2012 1:39 am

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