The Collegian
Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Students voice library etiquette concerns, possible solutions

The University of Richmond's Boatwright Memorial Library staff invited students to share their frustrations after receiving a slew of complaints about volume control and common courtesy in the library.

Lucretia McCulley, the director of outreach services for Boatwright Memorial Library, said that she had received several comments through the library's ongoing Counting Opinions survey about problems with quiet areas staying quiet.

"This is a difficult issue for library staff to monitor," McCulley wrote in an e-mail. "We would rather students control themselves and be thoughtful of their fellow students."

Senior Jackie DeWolfe didn't know how much the librarians could do.

"As college students we shouldn't have to be babysat and 'shhed' in the library," DeWolfe said. "People should be respectful of other students' rights to study, but at the same time, there are plenty of areas available for studying besides the library that might provide a better environment."

Freshman Anne Moberly said that she hadn't thought that the librarians needed to patrol the library.

"This isn't middle school," Moberly said. "But if a student is having a problem, maybe they could request for a librarian to come over and talk to people who are being disruptive."

DeWolfe found that the most disruptive people were those who were talking about the night before, gossiping and being unnecessarily loud.

Freshman Allie Gutshall said that she had been distracted by similar crowds, particularly "when girls are cackling and giggling and frat stars are loudly describing their sexual experiences over the weekend."

Another student, senior Charles Parsons, said that girls talking about their "crazy weekends and all the boys they hooked up with" had interfered with his concentration.

"If I hear one more story from a high-pitched, whiney-voiced freshman girl about the lodges, apartment parties or 'oh man, I got so wasted last weekend and shouldn't have hooked up with him,' I'm going to flip out," Parsons said.

The library is divided into quiet and non-quiet sections, but students found a lack of consideration throughout the building.

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"Being in the non-quiet section does not negate the fact that you are still in the library and, hence, should try to keep the noise to a minimum," Parsons said.

Junior Nellie Jenkins said that the library had been full of distractions.

"I think that 'non-quiet' often gets misunderstood as a social section," Jenkins said. "When in reality it should be a place for students to study together and work on group projects."

Jenkins said that she hadn't studied in the library often because she hadn't been able to get anything done or concentrate because people had been too busy socializing.

Other students suggested that more serious students should work in quiet sections.

"I think that people who are studying in a non-quiet section should go to the quiet sections provided by the library so that they won't be 'broverwhelmed' by the general 'fratmosphere' of the non-quiet sections," said freshman Jon Poole.

Moberly also related to people who had been disruptive in the library.

"I come with friends a lot and sometimes we will all be so fed up with work we just start laughing," she said. "I know this is really bad for the people around me, but sometimes I can't help it."

She said that she had studied in the library because it had been the only place she had been able to get anything done.

"If I'm in my room I am really distracted and can't do schoolwork," Moberly said. "And also, if I'm around other people who are studying I am more motivated to do work."

Some students study in the library because they like to separate their dorm room atmosphere from their study atmosphere.

"It puts me in a state of mind to get work done rather than when I'm in the dorm where there is a TV and other people around who want to hang out," freshman Dan Connelly said.

Students also suggested ways to keep the library quiet.

"Ask anyone making a big scene or noise to leave or rent a study room," Gutshall said.

Parsons said signs should be posted throughout the library to remind students of library etiquette.

As an alternative, senior Meredith Weck suggested the Gottwald Science Center.

"I love Gottwald and practically live there to the point that I'm convinced I should just move my bed there," Weck said. "It is so much quieter and the fact that you can have an entire classroom to yourself is amazing."

Weck said that library-goers shouldn't be afraid to ask someone to be quiet.

"Act like a mature adult and be respectful," Weck said. "And stand up for yourself and your right to study quietly."

Contact reporter Elizabeth Hardy at

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