The Health Sciences Library does not have a policy that excludes cell phone use, except in the Silent and Quiet Study Areas on the lower floor. Signs indicating that cell phone use and conversations are prohibited in these areas have recently been put up.
We ask that those who use cell phones in other areas of the library do so in a manner that respects the needs of others and we suggest that this means taking (or making) the call in our lobby, or at least, in an area where few others will be disturbed.
The upper floor of the Health Sciences Library is meant to be an area where collaboration and conversation is permitted so that learning can happen through the exchange of ideas. Yes, there are those who push the limits and sometimes the noise is a bit much, but we have a number of places on the lower floor where silent study is possible, and other places where quiet study and quiet conversations are expected.
As for enforcement, we can ask -- and so can you -- that people who are pushing the limits recognize the need to maintain an environment conducive to study and learning. Librarians and library staff are not police, however; that is not what we are here for. We will lend you our support and ask that those whose behaviour infringes stop behaving in an offensive manner if you let us know about it, but we don't make "behaviour patrols" and the only power to change behaviour we have is that of moral suasion.
In an effort to make expectations around behaviour in the Health Sciences Library a bit more clear, we will soon be publicizing a document: Regulations Governing Behaviour in the Health Sciences Library that outlines these expectations. Watch for it on our web site; it should be in place for the fall term. We hope that when expectations around behaviour in the Health Sciences Library become more clear and better known, some of the problems we now encounter will resolve themselves.
Answered by: Tom Flemming (Head of Public Services, McMaster University Health Sciences Library)