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(May 24/14) Its become a joke how disruptive the environment has become in certain parts of
Mills (the second floor is referred to as Club Mills). This seems to be a growing
trend: noisy students being allowed to talk, eat, watch videos on computers that are
meant to be used for education, and do anything but study in the libraries. Now
Thode has a study space in place of its periodicals that will no doubt become a
conversation floor in a similar way. This must stop. Something must be done.

I am a graduate student and thankfully do not have to put up with this kind of thing,
having a quiet study space with respectful student colleagues around me. But, I
remember being in even less tense environments than are becoming more ubiquitous now,
as an undergrad. Back then, it was a quiet study room with a couple of trouble-
makers. Even though I couldnt focus due to the out-of-place noise, being young and
timid (as other studious individuals may be) I didnt have the chutzpah to ask for
respectful silence. It was awful, and a lot of time and concentration was lost due
to this nonsense. And now, the situation is very clearly worse.

Please, staff and management of the libraries: do something. Make it a campaign for
study. Study should be encouraged and supported. Loud fun times should be looked
down upon in the library; noise and disruption should be quelled or expelled. I who
has been and those who now are fed up with being pushed out by disrespectful,
entitled individuals eagerly await a response, and more eagerly await swift action.
Solving this wouldnt cost money, it would only take guts and resolve to preserve and
indeed revive a positive, studious environment that those who truly belong in a place
of learning deserve and should expect.

Kindest regards, especially to those who serve within the libraries and may also be
frustrated with this not so recent trend.

Library response:

Thanks for your message.

We do understand that many students are looking for quiet study space, but just as many are looking for places to work together as a group, or are working on many things at once.

The Library has designated both QUIET and SILENT study spaces in all libraries so students can choose to study in spaces which best meet their needs. As you probably know we have also just introduced a Graduate Study Room to provide a space conducive to the research and study needs of our graduate student population.

We do our best to enforce the rules in these areas, although we do also encourage students to self-police these areas by talking with offenders themselves. We have a notification system in place whereby users can email quiet@mcmaster.ca if they feel a designated area is too noisy and we will send a staff member to speak to the offending individual(s).

More information on these study areas can be found at http://library.mcmaster.ca/study-space

We do monitor the use of our spaces throughout the term and make adjustments as necessary.

Hope this helps provide a better picture about where the Library is coming from on this topic.

Anne Pottier, Associate University Librarian

Updated response: We did launch a RESPECT Campaign last fall to address many of these issues. More information on this campaign can be found at http://library.mcmaster.ca/respect. There are plans to expand this campaign in the next academic year.

(Jun 5/14)
Answered by: Anne Pottier (Associate University Librarian, Library Services)

Follow-up Comments:

Thank you for the information, it is helpful. After some thought and more investigation, it seems that the issue may not be only about availability or designation of study space. Rather, its how the space is being used. The study spaces are being used as social spaces, not for collaborative work. In fact, the socialization that is happening is damaging to collaborative work, which is the intended benefactor of the space in the first place. The establishment of the quiet@mcmaster.ca email address was an excellent idea. Perhaps in addition, more postings could be made around quiet areas to encourage the self-policing and use of the email address. Would it be possible to look at ways of creating a culture in the libraries to encourage students to be vocal and active (in a respectful, co-operative way of course) about keeping things quiet around them? Going along with the above, there may be a need for heightened awareness of social space locations, as well. Perhaps this could be part of what is done to preserve the right environment of study spaces. Do students know where to go to hang out? Are there enough spaces for this, and are they accessible enough? Of course these latter two issues (availability and accessibility of social space) are outside the scope of the libraries responsibilities, but the first issue (awareness of social spaces and their locations) is something that could be a part of a quiet study space campaign. Thank you again for the information, and for posting my original comment and the response to it! (2014-06-12)


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