Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nesting in the library

For the last few days Unshelved, "the library comic strip," has been tackling the library furniture phenomenon where patrons gleefully re-arrange the furniture to suit their purposes. It may be a simple matter of putting tables together to facilitate a group, or a more complicated endeavor involving elevators and pillows. Either way, it's not something I noticed much working in a public library; but in an academic library it seems a regular occurrence.

Do not misunderstand, during the year I encourage professors to bring their students to the resource center and merrily rearrange tables and chairs to facilitate their class. I want professors to use the resource center. I want students in the resource center. I want students in the library, period. Moving around a bit of furniture is a small price to pay for friendly marketing. When the class is over, I drag everything back where it belongs. That seems to be the crux of the matter, putting things back the way you found them.

Last fall I had a running contest with an unknown patron. Each day the chair next to the new book shelves, placed there to make browsing the area more comfortable, had been moved to a small study room on the other side of the floor. Every morning I moved the chair back to the new book area - every afternoon the patron moved it to the study room. This went on for the last two weeks of school and then mysteriously stopped. Either the student graduated, or he got tired of moving that blasted chair!

Last summer there was a patron who each morning went up a floor, took a pillow off of a sofa in a lounge area, and used the pillow to prop herself up on a chair while working. Since then, the sofa was moved to another building on campus and I admit to a great deal of curiosity prior to the beginning of this summer term. What would she do? This year the student goes to a study room, puts a rolling chair on the elevator, brings the chair to her computer to use during the day, and then returns the chair to its home until the next day (and it begins again).

More recently, with the number of freshman coming to campus with their own laptops on the rise, furniture moving is taking place as students search in vain for available electrical outlets throughout the library. With a thirty year-old building, finding an open outlet is more often than not an exercise in frustration. Inside and outside the resource center I have surge protectors plugged in to every available outlet for computers, monitors, and scanners, not to mention printers and copy machines. The only open outlet is next to the restrooms. Yesterday, a student dragged a table close to the ladies room and plugged in her laptop. The only other available outlet was in use, the aforementioned student had her hot pot plugged in readying for lunch.

Don't ask, it's a whole new blog post and lunch is over.

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