Feb 23, 2020

“21st Century Library”: New food policy to keep building accessible

Andrew Veihmeyer/The Collegian

The Madden Library which re-opened in early 2009, is adopting new policies this semester regarding food and noise. But for new and returning students, no need to worry. There are no merciless librarians standing at the entrance who put their index finger to their lips and hold trash bins up for people to throw out their barely eaten lunches before entering.

In response to several student complaints last year, the library is seeking to limit the places where food can be eaten.

“To students’ credit, we have not seen damage to materials from food and drink,” said Associate Dean of Library Services, David Tyckoson, who emphasized that it’s not the reason for the change. “The smell is distracting and if you get a group of people eating together, the noise can be distracting.”

Other staff mentions that food and drink attract insects and other pests and can pose a messy threat to their rented property such as laptops. Tyckoson feels that food must be better contained in the building this semester.

Under the new food and drink policy, the north wing of the second floor of the library is labeled a “Food Friendly” area, where meals purchased from the student union and elsewhere can be brought in. Tables have labeled signs that indicate that food is permitted and welcomed.

Library staff realizes the potential of allowing food in the library, since it may encourage more students to use the building, said Tyckoson.

“When we opened up, we wanted to be a 21st century library, not a 19th century library”, he said, referring to the traditional atmosphere where food and drink were never permitted and silence was enforced in all areas.

“We know people eat and drink while they’re studying. We’re not opposed to that. We’re opposed to the big messes,” said Tyckoson.

With the new policy he hopes it will accommodate a larger amount of students who study in different ways. While some students excel in study groups or when listening to music on headphones or eating food, others still prefer the peace and quiet of a more traditional library, which is the goal the library seeks to achieve, he said.

Along with the north wing of the second floor, less messy foods like chips and candy are permitted in other public areas of the library. But there are areas where food and excessive noise is not allowed, some that are very close in proximity to the friendly areas, like the south wing of the second floor.

“The thing I don’t like about this policy are the different categories you have to memorize,” said graduate student Brian Dunlap, 26, stressing that by restricting some areas and permitting others with special exceptions on how messy the food is may be difficult to get used to. “But the whole goal they’re trying to get out of it is pretty good.”

Tyckoson hopes that the posted signs on every floor will help new and returning students adapt well to the changes. Library staff won’t issue citations or kick students out for chomping on chow mien on the first floor, but they’ll likely be asked to head upstairs.

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