Mannering library mischief

No longer just a place for quiet study the Journal explores some of the library’s craziest delinquent sightings and popular student pet peeves

Although it’s arguably the best place to be productive, the library has also become one of the most interesting places to study people and what can happen when boredom hits.
Although it’s arguably the best place to be productive, the library has also become one of the most interesting places to study people and what can happen when boredom hits.

In many ways manners have fallen by the wayside. We no longer expect children to be seen and not heard and questions of which fork to use are almost non-existent. In the library though, etiquette still reigns supreme.

Every Queen’s student can tell you at least one library horror story when the girl one cubicle over brought a heater or the couple across the table kept kissing.

Elyse Maxwell, ArtSci ’12, had an interesting experience at Douglas Library.

“Someone was filming an audition tape,” she said, adding that the scene required the student to stand on a table and scream at the top of their lungs.

The student had to run away before the security guard came though, she said.

Robbie Cormier, ArtSci ’11, said he saw a student whose escape wasn’t as smooth.

“This guy, dressed as the Mad Hatter on Halloween ran through the stacks [of books], drunk, and was chased by a security guard,” he said.

Nikki Caly, ArtSci ’14, has yet to have such a crazy experience but even with only a few weeks under her belt at Queen’s she’s already seen her fair share of library faux pas.

She said she saw football players banging on the windows outside of Stauffer and that it bothers her when people move chairs from table to table or talk in designated quiet areas, but that’s not all.

“Don’t be playing your music, It’s very distracting,” she said, adding that she plans to move her studying from Stauffer to Douglas, where she said she’s heard it’s quieter.

“We’re going to start going to Douglas because of the ‘Harry Potter’ reading room.” University Librarian, Martha Whitehead said if Caly wants quiet study, the shift to the “Harry Potter” reading room on the top floor of Douglas Library, is probably a good idea, especially given the little show Stauffer got a last year.

“There was a group that came in break dancing … right around the information desk,” she said. “It was sort of odd.”

Although the group was promptly shown the door, Whitehead said that with six libraries on campus there should be an area for anyone looking for a space to study. “In general our motto is share the space,” Whitehead said.

The most important thing is that you act appropriately in the area.

On the ground floor of Stauffer quiet chatting is acceptable, she said, and group work is encouraged.

“[But] it seems to get quieter the higher you go,” she said.

Even if you’ve become a master of controlling your decibels, it can still be easy to frustrate, bother or otherwise vex your library compatriots.

Whitehead said many students like to bring snacks in with them, especially as they log more hours during peak times like exams.

Whitehead laughed a little when discussing a longtime rumor that she finally managed to confirm.

“There was a kettle brought in during 24 hour study so [the student] could stay all night long,” she said.

While a kettle may be a bit extreme, given the endless number of Common Ground coffee cups and left over pizza crusts which dot the library landscape, it’s no shock. “Whatever you bring … don’t leave the wrappers lying around,” she said, adding that gummi bears make a good library snack because they’re not noisy or dirty. Susannah Gouinolck, ArtSci ’11, said she and her housemate learned first hand about how messy food can get in the library.

“Someone threw food at her over the study carrels,” she said.

Whitehead said that while leaving—tossing—food around is always a bad idea, it’s actually best practice to leave books on the desks once you’re done with them.

“It’s a good idea to leave them so we know they’ll get shelved right,” she said.

With books, group work and 24 hour study periods, it’s easy to get distracted.

“Everybody multi-tasks and you always need to take a break,” Whitehead said, adding that she has no problem with people who play games or watch movies on their laptops while at the library.

While official rules may say procrastination isn’t a problem, social codes indicate otherwise.

Emily Marshall, ArtSci ’13, said she gets annoyed when people don’t use the library for study. “While many students were frantically searching for a spot to study during exams, the girl beside me in Stauffer watched How I Met Your Mother for three consecutive hours, not even making an attempt to look like she was studying,” she said.

Whitehead said individuals are probably more wary of disturbing others than they need to be and that others often don’t notice minor annoyances like sneezing or shuffling belongings.

“Often people like to have a certain amount of life going on around them,” she said.

Nonethless, it seems that students have developed their own unwritten code of library conduct.

Ryan Stinson, ArtSci ’11, said if you want people to watch your belongings, you have a time limit.

“You have a maximum of half an hour between leaving your things,” he said, adding that time limits also apply to other library activities.

“Sleeping in the chairs at the back is acceptable, during exams, for a maximum of two hours,” he said.

Whitehead said last year library staff would clear away the belongings of those who had tried to reserve their seat for too long during peak periods.

“We were tying to do that but were worried about having responsibility for others belongings,” she said. “If a student felt comfortable putting someone’s belongings on the floor that might be a way to approach it.”

—With files from Kelly Loeper

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