The Etiquette of Study Rooms

Recently, study rooms have become a source of controversy in the library. The scenario is something like this:

Student: What is your policy on study rooms?

Us:         First come, first serve.

Student: Well, I’m here with a group that wants to study, and all the rooms are full of people alone. One person is asleep!

Each time, I go upstairs to investigate. Yes, one person was asleep. He’d fallen asleep while studying but had just awakened when I found him. He generously offered to give up the room to the group, but the circulation folks had found another place for them to study. The second time I went up, the student was not asleep but did have the light off. I switched it on but didn’t ask the person to leave, therefore making everyone involved unhappy.

The last few weeks of each semester, the availability of study rooms becomes an issue. Students alone want a quiet place to study. Groups of students want a place to study together (and use a white board). Both have legitimate needs.

After some discussion, we decided not to change our policy for several reasons. 1. Some of the groups who were in study rooms were not studying at all, but socializing loudly. And other students complained about that as well. 2. There are study rooms in the student services building that can be reserved. 3. No one on the staff wanted to go around making the decision about who was ‘legitimately” studying and who was not.

I believe there is access for  everyone if some basic etiquette is observed:

  • Study rooms should not be used for watching movies and having phone conversations. Both of those activities can be done in many places outside the library.
  • Groups should remember that study rooms are not soundproof and they too should be considerate of the folks in other rooms.
  • We’re all adults here. When you’re with a group, just knock on the door and ask when the person will be finished because your group needs to use the whiteboards.
  • For singletons, the study rooms are not the only place for quiet study. There are nooks and crannies all over the place that provide privacy and isolation. 
  • Be thankful for the study rooms. Some colleges have lost many of theirs to make room for faculty offices. (Yikes!)
  • Instead of immediately wanting to throw others out, ask if there are some other alternatives. (I’ve more than once given a group my office to use!) Besides the Student Services Building, the Learning Center also has a couple of study rooms.

Most of the time, there are enough rooms for everyone. On the few times when there’s a conflict, good sense and courtesy can go a long way to make everyone satisfied, if not completely happy.


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