Risking Temptation

Note: Since the beginning of school this year the situation in the library has been extremely contentious. Only after carefully observing the status of the library, as well discussing the current situation with students, other board members, staff and administrators have we been able to come to the following conclusions. It is hard for students to see what all the fuss in the library is about. Sure, there is some inappropriate behavior, and yes, the lobby can become quite rambunctious. But if you want to study, there are many places to go free of distraction. Though noise sometimes leaks in from the lobby, the Garver Room remains an excellent place to study. The Freeman Room, or “comfy chair room,” is wonderfully conducive to group study, and individual desks in the basement provide an excellent sanctuary for students interested in individual work. It is not so much having places to study, however, that is the problem. It’s the temptation to be social. Students who want to study often avoid the library because of its role as a social hub. It is wonderfully “Andover” that our library is also our social center, but for students who want to escape from the distractions of their dorm rooms – like phone calls, email and Facebook – there is no place to go without facing similar distractions. This has administrators rightfully worried. Students were taken aback last week by what appeared to be a cold crackdown on library behavior, but perhaps administrators came across more sternly than they intended. It is doubtful that administrators would try to pry the library from students’ social death-grip altogether; it is simply not in their interest. In fact, many administrators support the notion of the library as both academic and social. When it comes to protecting the library as an academic space, however, even students can understand the administration’s concern. At night and during conference period, the social dynamic of the library can be pervasive. Of course, certain sanctuaries remain silent at all hours, but being able to focus in these places is difficult when your friends are enjoying themselves in the next room over. Since typically social areas are adjacent to study areas, it is hard to work no matter how quiet the room. Therefore we have a responsibility to make socializing in the library at least a little less tempting. The Phillipian looks forward to the Student Council’s proposal on the library. We are proud that our library is a vibrant, social place, and we hope that it will remain both a social and academic hub. However, we are concerned, as administrators are, that students must resist strong forces of temptation to get work done. In this regard, we have two suggestions of our own: 1. Crack down where it counts. In areas like the basement of the library, even students recognize the importance of perfect silence. Designated silent areas should be maintained. These areas could include the Garver Room, the basement and the stacks. Students will respect library proctors more if both parties can agree on areas strictly for quiet study. 2. Move temptation away from the front door. Moving the lobby computers to the second floor and creating an area where it can be more effectively managed would move social temptations away from academic areas like the Garver Room. Dare we say a 2nd floor library café would go nicely with a student gathering area? Maybe of it seems crazy for our library, but most college libraries have them and without a student center, a nice OWHL Café could quarter social activity in a defined space. If students want to study in the library free from distraction and temptation, they ought to have an opportunity to do so. At the same time, the social and academic pieces of our lives go hand in hand. We learn from each other all the time. An excellent library is a place where people want to go. They go there to learn from each other, from themselves and even occasionally from a book. OWHL may need some tweaking, but we’ve already made it most of the way. This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board.