I was pointed towards this post through a Tweet from Russ Groerend this evening.

The post is from Doug Johnson, who is a Director of Media and Technology for Mankato Public Schools. Read more about him here.

He says he walks into many libraries that have signs like this:

Welcome to the Library
Welcome to the Library

And wonders what would happen if signs like this were used instead.

Welcome to the Library (revised)
Welcome to the Library (revised)

I don’t think I’m the only one who sees problems with the first.

  • “No cellphones/no texting” – Why not?  I could understand the problems this could cause when ringers are cranked high, but if they are on vibrate only or silent, what’s the harm?  Sometimes people need to contact others for whatever reason.  The only person’s work a cellphone user is interfering with is their own.
  • “No personal computers or other equipment” – Firstly, what is other equipment?  Are iPods not allowed as well?  Why waste the libraries computer resources when you can use your own which you’re probably more effective with since you’ve learned how to use it.
  • I like this sign (from Flickr)
    I like this sign (from Flickr)

    “Computers for school use only” – This rule is just waiting to be broken.  How many students don’t use something like Facebook or Twitter.  And what if one of these tools are being used for school purposes, like collaborating on a project or gathering information from someone else.

  • “No talking” – Most people likely skip over this rule and pass it off for pointless.  I don’t think people should be goofing off and having loud, obnoxious conversations in the library (there are other places for that) but I think if people are reasonable and respectful with their noise level there shouldn’t be a big problem with it.
  • “No eating or drinking” – I understand that no one wants messes in studying areas.  Make sure users of the library have access to cleaning materials if they need them and have garbage cans and recycling bins in many places.
  • “No book checkout without student ID” –  Out of all of these rules, I probably agree with this one the most.  But perhaps a student ID could be substited with a login name and password.
  • “Library is to be used for schoolwork only” – Why?  A library is defined as “a collection of sources, resources, and services, and the structure in which it is housed”.  It’s purpose is to provide resources for people and give a place for them to use them.   If this rule is strictly enforced, then people wouldn’t be allowed to do personal reading.

I am a big fan of the revised version Doug has come up with.  The only topic he didn’t address was the book checkout one, but I can’t think of an alternative myself.  I think people would feel more welcome to libraries with rules similar to those in the revised and people would be more effective and productive with their time if they were more free to manage it freely.

Are there any other rules that frustrate you or seem unreasonable?  Or any alternatives you might have?