Libarary Noise Policy Frustrates Students

Dorian McCarroll, Staff Writer

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Over the summer of 2015, Brebeuf closed down its library to complete some much-anticipated renovations. After months of work and countless dollars shelled out to finish it for the new school year, the excitement amongst the students was at an all time high.

The new renos included a larger, more open floor-plan designed to be utilized mostly as collaborative working areas. In its new form, about 90% of the library space allows students to work together on projects as long as they don’t get too noisy; the other 10% is for silent study.

But when more and more students were asked to leave the library because of talking that the librarians felt was too loud, some students have started to ask, “What was the point of the renovations?”

Since the completion of the renovations, numerous students have complained about enforcement of the talking policy in the library and especially how the librarians treat them when they allegedly violate those rules.

“When some people are talking and collaborating with group members in the designated talking areas, they will still get kicked out,” said one Brebeuf senior when asked to describe what she has noticed in the library. Other students have complained of being shushed and made to feel unwelcome while studying in groups.

The librarians, Ms. Russell and Mrs. Karcz, said they wish students would not take it personally when they are requested to leave the library or relocate due to excessive noise.  They also said that it takes a lot for them to get to that point, and only kick students out after multiple requests to keep noise at a reasonable level.

Both librarians stated that they feel students sometimes forget that both of them are not allowed to leave the library, so if the noise gets to be too much, they too cannot focus on their work.

However, students claim that even though they are going to the designated zones to do their collaborative work, they are still getting in trouble for it.

When asked about this issue, the librarians said that at the beginning they tried to do zoning by sound level but soon realized that the volume was getting out of hand. They said they “wanted to find a balance” between talking and silence, and stressed that absolute quiet is not a necessity.  As long as the library environment is conducive to everyone being academically productive, Russell and Karcz said they are happy.  If students need to work collaboratively at a noise level higher than what is permitted in the rest of the library, they can reserve a library room that has a door to help reduce the volume and prevent their voices from carrying.

The library is also home to the I.T. department, which is right next to the printer area, both of which are used heavily by students. When a student has problems with their technology device they are sent to this area of the library where they have to verbally communicate with the I.T. guys, creating another instance when noise may be problematic. High numbers of teenagers is a guarantee for a louder environment, which is exactly the setting when there are 20 students crammed around those four computers trying to print off papers that are due the next period.

One of the main goals for the library renovation was the incorporation of group collaboration areas. However, as Mrs Karcz and Ms. Russell pointed out, students need to remember that the old library was supposed to be completely silent,  and how much better this new setup is.

On a final note, Karcz stressed that “It’s the students whose main intent is to simply socialize which negatively  impact the noise level in our space…Seldom do we have any issues with students who are here to work together. We want students to be here.”

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