A PSA on library etiquette

A library is the one place where you can escape the distractions this campus throws at you. 

You can grind out one assignment or a few, or maybe just catch up on readings. No matter the work you’re about to conquer, library time is focus time. But what could be worse than distractions in a place that’s supposed to give you the utmost peace? 

As someone who spends an average of three hours a day in Stauffer, I’ve been both the distracted and the distractee. This short guide to library etiquette will help you avoid being the incessantly loud chewer, the chip bag crinkler or the irritatingly loud cougher. Overall, these tips will turn you into a better library patron. 

Avoid wining and dining

If you know what you’re doing is loud or has the possibility of distracting your neighbour, then just hold off or walk away from that quiet area. 

A bag of chips isn’t a big deal, as long as you’re careful to avoid loud chomping or messing around with the bag over and over again. Snacks are fine. No one is going to be mad if you pull out something small to nibble on in the middle of your study-sesh. But if you bring a full meal with a salad, main course, then dessert snack for later, you’re pushing it. 

This actually happens; I’ve seen (and smelt) a student enjoy her curry dinner then tuna salad while trying to work through a reading. Sure, it makes sense to get the best use out of your time, but there are study breaks for a reason. Take your food to the ARC and relax there for a little instead. 

Careful with volume

The library is a place for peace and quiet, so do your best to avoid conversations with friends or bothering your neighbour with loud music. 

Keep the volume on your laptop or phone somewhere in the low to middle range. I find this range gives you just the right amount of sound to block everything else out while keeping your neighbours happy. 

When it comes to the volume of your voice, see to it that it’s low or non-existent. If you’re sitting with a friend and are dying to spill out what you just heard, either text them or just wait until the walk home. It might seem stupid with them sitting right next to you, but something as small as a voice can really break a stranger’s train of thought. 

Be mindful of your space 

When you’re sharing a table with others, things can be a hit or a miss. Sometimes as soon as they sit you move your stuff, and at other 

times you’re oblivious to their presence. Maybe you don’t move your work aside because you’re too focused on work, but there’s an easy way to avoid this. 

Even if you’re at a table alone, fit your stuff into the portion of the table that’s yours, around one-quarter of it. That way, if anyone sits down, your work is already out of the way and you can continue memorizing molecules or staring at theories. 

When in doubt, play by the golden rule 

Yes, I’m bringing back the golden rule itself: treat others how you would want to be treated. Sorry for the elementary school flashback, but it’s actually a great expression that can applied to library etiquette. 

If someone’s music is too loud, chances are they’d turn it down if they knew it was bothering you. Instead of grumbling or being rude, give them a small friendly nudge. 

This isn’t only more polite, but it’s a better solution for getting them to turn it down and help you focus. You’d rather have someone tell you if you were distracting them, then have a stranger get frustrated with you. 

So the next time you’re in Stauffer cramming for a midterm, or in Douglas trying to get work done between classes, be conscious of the library patron you want to be and mindful of your fellow student.


Etiquette, Library

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content