With the new public library opening last month, productivity trips to the new Kirchberg facility have been as frequent as ever.
While there are some standard rules posted in any libraries, behaving appropriately in one (of the few remaining quiet public zones) is not a skill mastered by everyone (as I have noticed while spending much of my time in the university library). Here are some tips on how to facilitate not only your own, but also others’ library experience.
Do respect the library staff and obey their instructions. They are amiable and smart people that sadly face a considerable lack of respect towards their profession. Don’t be afraid to ask them about recommended books or their whereabouts, as long as your questions remain sensible, librarians give you answers more helpful than you would expect.
Don’t be noisy. The library is one of the few quiet public spaces (that are free!) used by mostly students and researchers. Some libraries have designated areas for group study that allow you to communicate with your friends if you need to, but if not, be considerate of others and keep conversations to a minimum.
Concerning noise, do use silent mode on your devices – vibration on wooden desks is much louder than you would expect. It happens to everyone, but hearing multiple notifications is an unnecessary perturbation that can easily be avoided. If you need to take a call, always leave the premises and only return the call once you’re outside. Also, do make sure your music is not playing too loudly.
This one concerns Saturday mornings in particular. While taking your children to the library is essential to their upbringing, don’t lose track of their whereabouts or let them disobey the library rules, which also apply to toddlers.
Do bring water and food (if allowed) to keep you refreshed and alert during work. It is essential for you to properly fuel your body and brain, something that is often forgotten during long cramming sessions. However, don’t eat noisy or smelly food. Even if it’s a subtle smell, it can cause discomfort and annoyance among your desk neighbours. The same applied to your feet – no one cares for smelly feet, so please don’t take your shoes off and plan comfortable attire instead.
Don’t leave your food crumbs on the desk. Make sure you clean up after yourself out of common decency. This also concerns papers and books. Return those where you found them, or if you don’t remember, ask the library worker or leave them on the return shelves. Wrongly shelved books are unexpectedly hard to find and might as well be reported as missing.
Do respect the library materials. This includes highlighting, note-taking, ripping, and many other unthinkable library crimes. When it comes to artefacts, bear in mind that these cannot be replaced as easily as bestsellers and textbooks. Be considerate of other potential readers and return the material in the state as you picked up.
Don’t ignore library deadlines. If you haven’t finished using the item, request an extension, but remember that many other people might need the material as soon as possible. Not only will you be fined, but some libraries impose a ban on borrowing books until all books have been returned.
Do take short study breaks. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours is as inefficient as not working at all, and essential for the most enhanced productivity. Twenty minutes are enough to stretch, move around, have a snack and relax, as long as the duration is sensible enough. Don’t turn the study breaks into 4-hour trips. Hogging desk space or seats for your friends is a prevalent practice and very selfish, especially during exam periods. Don’t take up computer spaces if you don’t intend on using it, as these are often very limited yet in huge demand.
Do limit the books you borrow at a time. Stacking 20 books at once is unfair to others that may need them, and even more frustrating if labelled as ‘available’ on the library website (which resulted in an unnecessary and disappointing trek into town only to find it has been borrowed).
All in all, always remember to be considerate of others and help maintain a healthy environment for reading, studying, and research. But most importantly, enjoy your trip to the new and beautiful library!