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modern ms manners: shhhhhhhh! a note on library etiquette


It is that delightful time of year where students everywhere die a little inside and frantically prepare for their exams. The academic year rushes to a dramatic end, with seemingly insurmountable word limits to be reached on that essay, oral presentations to be given in a language you are supposed to know and somehow it feels like you have more exams than you had subjects. In an effort to restrain themselves from distraction, (or indeed gaining any benefit from accidental exposure to sunlight), the modern student finds its way towards that sacred, studious space known as ‘the library’.

As a perpetual student, I have spent my fair share of time in libraries. I am also a massive nerd and therefore the concept of having as many books in one place has excited me ever since Belle was given a library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. However, I know that the vision of me spinning around in joyous circles whilst waving at all the books is not appropriate behaviour in a public library. I have also learnt that the library is not always the scholarly sanctuary we are led to believe.

Especially at this time of year, I find there is an atmosphere of impending doom which hangs like a bad smell over students who attempt to study in libraries. Speaking of bad smells, it is important to remember that people of all/no hygiene backgrounds can get access to library cards. This means that whilst you might be trying to decipher the deeper aspects of globalisation, the person sitting next to you may well in fact have breath which smells (as my friend so aptly described) like her grandfather’s slimy, frog infested pool.

After having to sit near a man who repeatedly yawned like a turtle having sex whilst I attempted to write my thesis, I snapped and realised that libraries are not places for people who need to actually get some study done. As a massive bookworm, this saddens me and so in an attempt to save our libraries, I offer the following advice on library etiquette:

No one Cares about your Facebook Status:

Given that Facebook was created by students who should have in fact been studying for something else, I feel it is only natural that other students now in turn procrastinate on Facebook. However, despite how amazeballs you are online, it is important to realise that not everyone around you might appreciate how excited you are that that guy liked your status/duckface profile pic etc. Do whatever you like online, but be conscious of the fact that your peers might not be as interested.

Realise that you cannot whisper:

Even if you think you can whisper and have won many prestigious whispering awards, it is important to know your limits when you are in a library and surrounded by people who are so tense that the rhythmic tapping of a pen is likely to cause a riot. It is probably best to just stop talking. Seriously, just stop it.

Remember there are sexier places than the library for PDAs:

Personally I am all for public displaces of affection. However, what I am opposed to is having my chair bumped continuously from a couple mounting each other at the desk next to me. Yes, it is exciting when you work out how to print from Mac. And yes, it is even more exciting when you are actually able to find that book in its catalogued place. However, even if such circumstances happen to float your romantic boat, it might be best to take that sort of loving outside for the greater public to view. Don’t save it all for the poor students!

Do not answer your mobile phone:

I have discussed the issue of mobile phones in quiet places previously and those guidelines are just as applicable in a library. It is also a good thing to note that moving into the stairwell will in fact amplify your phone call.

Do not hide books away on purpose:

There is nothing worse than trying to find that key book than realising that some little sneaky so and so has tried to hide in a completely different section. Really, what kind of ninja are you? Surely it would send a stronger message to the establishment if you just stole the book and risked unleashing the fury that is a scorned librarian.

Keep up your hygiene

Call me crazy but I just feel like this is a good thing to do generally. I know this is a busy time of year, but honestly if you do not have time to shower or brush your teeth, you are probably not going to go very well in your exams anyway. Not least because you might end up catching some sort of disease. If you are not convinced, Google image “gum disease” and “athlete’s foot”. Otherwise I shall be advising librarians to institute high pressure water jets, (similar to those at a car wash) at the entrance of every library. And nobody wants that (except for me).

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