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Shhhhhh: How to Behave in the Library and Why

The library is a big rambling building. Lots of people like it. We understand that people come here for a variety of reasons.

We’ve seen that different sections of the library have different personalities and that sometimes those personalities change. The periodicals area is a good example. For years it was rumored that people went to the periodicals section of the library to see and be seen. If you were more interested in dating than in studying historical dates, periodicals was the place to go. Then, one day that changed. Today the periodicals area is for serious study and serious students will frown on you for being noisy. Then we heard that level 5 was becoming the social place. That isn’t sitting well with the serious students of the humanities and they want level 5 to be quiet. There are a lot of artists and authors studying on level 5 and they need to listen to their muse, not you. Consider this, if you and your friends talk on level 5 you could end up as the bad guys in someone’s short story or novel and there is nothing we can do about that.

So, here is a rundown of how you should behave in different sections of the library.

Level 5—QUIET.  If you must express yourself bring a sketchbook and draw, quietly write haikus, or meditate on all you would like to say and then release those thoughts into the great American novel. By the way, when you are famous the curators from Special Collections would like you to donate your papers. Remember we asked first.

Level 4—QUIET.  We know the Media Center is there and so a lot of creative people are going in and out. They are watching videos and making videos and the energy level is high. We understand, but let’s all make an effort. If you imagine your life would make a great movie we’re okay with that, but we need you to be quiet on the set.

Level 3—No Shhhh. This is the place for conversations. We have group study tables, comfy chairs you can pull into a circle, a snack zone for treats that aren’t too messy, and it’s staffed by people who understand you just need to be social in college. If you need to be in the library, and who doesn’t, but you think we are a little up tight then this is where you can relax. If you think you like noise, but you really need quiet try the Honors Reading Room at the south end of the floor.

Level 2—QUIET, with an exception. There are a lot of quiet things to do on level 2. In Periodicals you need to be quiet. In family history you need to be quiet. In the science area you need to be quiet. But in the south end of level 2 we have a place for people who are quiet, but who enjoy a little something extra while they study–it’s the Music Zone. The Lee Library is one of the few libraries we know of that has public music playing. If quiet is too quiet, but you are distracted by other people’s conversations then this spot is for you.

Level 1—REALLY QUIET! This is the floor where the librarians have lots of signs reminding you to be quiet. They probably won’t shhhh you, but they would be within their rights to do so. We do draw the line at smacking your knuckles with a ruler, but don’t think they wouldn’t if we’d let them (Note: this is a joke, the level 1 librarians are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Please don’t send us angry comments). They aren’t mean, they just understand that some people live with five roommates and the only way they are going to pass that accounting final is if they can really concentrate. Look at our economy, we need those accountants.

So, if there is one message we have for students it’s this. We like you. We like how you use our building, but if you need to talk a lot then find a study room or go to level 3. And, if you find you are really having fun you might need to take the party outside. Remember, we can’t make you study but we can make your experience studying as pleasant as possible.