Library leaves everything to be desired


Kathy Deaver

Students gather around a library table socializing. The library has become more of a social hangout spot than a place to work.

As I sit here in the school library, ready to crank this article out and move on to my next assignment, I feel myself losing focus. The basketball players’ blown-up faces stare down at me from the walls, while dangling decorations wave back and forth in the breeze of the air conditioning. The shouts of underclassmen at a nearby table — scratch that, at every table — ruin my concentration.

It is written, ‘My library shall be a house of studying, but you have made it a den of animals.’

The library used to be an area specifically for studying. Now, it’s merely a holding cell for the cafeteria.

I remember being told as a freshman that I had no business talking in the library. Whispering was a risky proposition, and there was absolutely no food allowed.

Now, while food is still prohibited, the library is equivalent to the cafeteria in all other respects. Couches and wide tables encourage informality and conversation. An overload of decorations adds to the general disorder and festive feel, neither conducive to studying. From all corners, heated discussions of the Baltimore riots and complaints about coming exams interrupt my typing.

I miss the days when the library was quiet. It is impossible to be productive amid the clamor. I understand that not everyone is trying to do homework or study, but many people are, and it is extremely rude to treat the library like the cafeteria. It is not a place for food. It is not a place for casual conversation. It is not a place for playing around.

There are multiple reasons for the noise. First of all, armchairs and couches create a relaxed atmosphere where shenanigans are allowed. Currently, I am watching a burly freshman literally sit on top of another freshman half his size who is trying to retain his seat on the couch. This leads to the second reason for the noise: lack of rule-enforcement.

The variety of things going on in the library attracts an even larger, even louder crowd and prevents its supervisor from being able to monitor the room and maintain the proper level of concentration and decorum. Add to this the fact that the room itself is not conducive to study any longer, and it’s no wonder that the library is no longer a place to study.

What are the consequences of this? The people who want to study or do homework have to either work through the noise and distractions, or find another place to go. Where can they go? Not the cafeteria, obviously, and not in the hallways because they cannot be there during mods. The courtyard is virtually never open, even in good weather, and classrooms are in use. Unless they belong to specific classes that have their own rooms — chorus, newspaper, yearbook, art, or TV Production — they have literally no other place to go.

By themselves, the couches or the decorations are harmless. However, if normal rules are not regularly and justly enforced, they become huge problems. In order to function, something must change. The library is not a hang-out. It is a workplace, and it’s time to start treating it like one.

Kathy Deaver is the Online Chief for The Patriot and