Library enforces ridiculous rules

December 14, 2010 — by Ashley Tang
Tang Ashley 11 103535

Ashley Tang

One Friday tutorial, I hurried to the school library expecting a place away from the cold for quiet study. Instead, as I opened the door, I was blocked by a giant crowd milling in front of the library detectors waiting to be admitted. A campus supervisor guarded the entrance holding a bright yellow chain to keep students from pushing their way in, as if acting as the bouncer for an exclusive club.
Since when did I have to wait in line for entry into a library, of all places? When I asked the librarians about this issue, they said that in order to ascertain that students are focusing on schoolwork, the number of students cannot exceed around 150, which is the number of chairs present in the building. By ensuring that every student sits down in a chair, they can keep track of how many people are in the library and how many open spots are left. If all the seats are taken, they don’t let in any more students.

The problem with this rule is that there are more students who need to use the library than there are seats. Judging by the academic nature of the school’s students, if studying needs to be done, it will be done regardless of any distractions. Why should there be an arbitrary number of 150 to determine the optimum condition for studying? The library needs to add more chairs and tables to make room for the students who need this vital resource, because a library should fulfill the needs of its students.

Now, students are finding that their education is being hindered because they cannot depend on the library as a useful study location. As the temperature drops, so does the chance of gaining admittance. The students fortunate enough to do so gratefully join their friends while the ones denied access are forced to look for an open classroom or to shiver in the rain.

However, the students allowed entry are not let in without some restrictions. The library staff feels compelled to enforce some constricting rules.

Here are just a few that I’m sure everyone is familiar with: no food, no gum, no cellphones, and no sitting on the ground. These rules bother me for a number of reasons.

First of all, when students need to cram before a big midterm, they are forced to choose between eating lunch and studying in the library. If the library allowed food, then students could study without having to endanger their health by skipping a meal. I understand that the library needs to be kept clean, but perhaps the school could designate an area in the library for eating similar to the tiled area of the Saratoga public library, where people are allowed to eat and even buy food from the snack machines. Many students would appreciate an area like this and it would encourage students to study more.

Second, many students rely on their cellphones to contact group members and to search for information on the Internet. When all the computers are taken, students have no choice but to pull out their iPhones in order to translate a word or to research a topic for an essay. If students can use computers, why can’t they use phones? The library takes away this essential privilege when students need it most.

The last rule that I mentioned takes away a person’s basic privilege to sit down or stand up. In the library, the staff specifically demands that students sit down in a chair. Students are yelled at if they sit on the ground, if they sit on the table, if they stand up, if they share a chair, or even if they bring a chair to another table. This strictness is not only unreasonable but also a little ridiculous.

When students are working on a group project, it is necessary to bring a chair over for another group member. And if there are no other seats, it is only natural that a student will either share a chair with a friend or resort to sitting on the ground. Doing so is certainly not a “fire hazard,” as it is sometimes referred to by the campus supervisor, because if there was a fire, the students sitting on the ground would simply get up and move.

One time, I went to a different table to ask someone a quick question. Of course, I immediately got yelled at for standing up when I had just left my chair for a few seconds. Students should be able to choose when and where they want to sit down.

Although some of these rules may be needed to maintain order, the library really needs to loosen up. After all, this is Saratoga, and students here don’t need to be told to focus on their schoolwork.

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