Recently an extensive comment was sent to VCU Libraries regarding the blog entry “General Comments and Concerns About Cabell Library” (12/18/06). This comment, posted by a Graduate Student from the Department of Humanities and Sciences, focused on several issues including:
-Computer use: Limit library computer use to specific, academic Web sites.
-Study Environment: A better study environment was requested, including newer furniture, with acknowledgment that furniture was slated to arrive.
-Facilities and Housekeeping: Improve housekeeping within the library, and encourage users to support the cleanliness of the library space and the items within. Specific suggestions include restricting food consumption, particularly during Library Lite All Nite to help keep the library cleaner. It was also suggested that VCU Libraries encourage patrons to respect the library spaces by cleaning up after themselves, explore ways to enforce graffiti and property destruction regulations, and install security cameras to help identify people who violate library building use policies.
Pat Flanagan, Associate University Librarian for Public Services, replies....
Thank you for these comments and ideas about VCU Libraries. You have noted a number of issues here. One is use of computers for “properly” using the library. The lines of what is research or project related and what is not are blurring with Web 2.0 social web sites. We recognize that libraries are places of learning and that learning often involves conversation and interaction, sometimes online, and we therefore lean toward great flexibility in how we define what is proper use of our computer resources. However, given the shortage of computers, we do request that use be for academic purposes, and we do adhere to the VCU regulations for computer use:
We are continually challenged with housekeeping issues in such an active, dynamic building as Cabell Library. I appreciate your concern about cleanliness, and library staff are uniformly disturbed by the challenges of keeping things clean, as well. We do work regularly with Housekeeping to ensure that they are aware of our needs, particularly during the Library Lite extended exam hours. You are correct that encouraging patrons to consider the condition of the library which they leave behind is vital to maintaining the building as a pleasant study place for others. We are currently planning an oversize poster about our food policy for the Cabell Library entrance, and are working with our security staff to better ensure that inappropriate foods are not brought into the building.
There are a mixture of views on how much camera surveillance is appropriate in an academic library. On whole, we want to do what we can to protect the privacy of library patrons, therefore extended use of cameras would require discussion and consideration. On the practical side, however, we do not have adequate funding to deploy extensive camera surveillance, and the building’s electrical capacity is already at maximum capacity. It would be difficult to choose cameras over computers if funds and more power were available, but I can assure you that we are as distressed about vandalism as you are. It is extremely disturbing that some patrons do not seem to care if library space and furniture is destroyed, and therefore not available to fellow students or researchers. We have hired two full-time security staff this year. They are working very hard to reduce both destructive activities and the inappropriate food instances and are making good progress. Security reports are filed whenever problems cannot be resolved, and those reports go to VCU Police as well as to library personnel.
Many thanks for bringing your thoughts on the library to us, and for your interest in making it a beneficial place to learn and study.