It’s not often that one sees reviews of patrons’ behaviour, so a comparative assessment of the U of A’s libraries as working spaces contained some shockers. Here is what the correspondent encountered at the John A Weir Memorial Law Library
Autumn drops beautiful colours around Edmonton, and campus is one place to enjoy the changing leaves. I wanted to enjoy these rich colours on a warm Thursday (7:30pm), so I took the scenic route to the Law Library. Once inside, I headed up to the 3rd floor, and sat down at a table. It was very quiet, although a woman was listening to music a little too loudly on her headphones. Even though she was about 15 feet away, I could hear the faint booming coming from her headset. As if music wasn’t enough, she decided that this would be a good time to eat something—carrots. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the sound of this woman’s crunching reverberated throughout the quiet library.
Once I was sick of listening to Bugs Bunny’s crunching, I decided to take a walk around the floor, and was immediately struck by the amount of food and food-related garbage that was strewn everywhere; I saw pop cans, a Styrofoam container, plastic cutlery and napkins. As I walked past one student, the smell of banana wafted up to my nose.
Being in this particular library, I felt the urge to read a legal document, so I looked up the University’s Code of Library Conduct, and found the following quote on the website: “Insects attracted by food and beverages pose a danger to the library collection.” As far as I could tell, the Law Library didn’t have any signs asking people not to eat or drink inside, so perhaps the library could put up a sign stating that people who want to eat while studying must bring enough to share with everyone. Even better would be if students did not bring food and beverages into the libraries, so as to keep insects away.
Tuesday: 3:20pm. This time, I went to the McLean Reading Room, which is truly the jewel of the entire library. It was very quiet here, although there was a bit of noise coming from the Law atrium below. There are a couple of nice group work areas at one end of the room. The tables in are really spacious, with hookups for laptops. Some natural light streams down from above, and there’s a fluorescent light for each table. Kudos to the person who designed these tables for realizing how important it is for students to have plenty of light.
Nice to know that we light the rooms well, even if we don’t seem to enforce the Code of Library Conduct.