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Vol 38  No 11
March 16, 2006


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QE II launches new campaign to reduce chatter

The sound and the silence

By Jeff Green

University Librarian Richard Ellis. (Photo by David Sorensen)

Ssssshhh!

That’s the blunt message officials with the Queen Elizabeth II Library have for its patrons. The library, the largest of its kind in the province, has launched a brand new promotion aimed at putting a lid on noise created in the library. Officials want to cut down the amount of chatter that’s going on in open areas and is banning the use of cellphones, except in designated zones.

It’s all part of the Quiet Campaign which was rolled out last week.

“In the last few years we have become aware of an increasing number of requests for quiet study space,” said University Librarian Richard Ellis. “The area of lounge seating on the third level has attracted more noisy behaviour than we had hoped. The proliferation of cellphones has also spawned behaviour that is disruptive to nearby users in the library. We have decided to undertake a campaign to sensitize our users to the impact that their behaviour has on others.”

In order to get its messages across, the library has put up posters, distributed handouts and placed tent cards throughout the QE II explaining how patrons can reduce noise. The promotional items also highlight other things the library has had feedback about and acted on ­ like adding padded chairs in the study area and opening earlier on Sundays.

The promotional items were designed by Jana Seshadri, a graphic design student from the College of the North Atlantic who is doing her internship with the Division of Marketing and Communication’s Image Service’s unit this semester.

Mr. Ellis said he thinks the new campaign demonstrates that officials pay attention to the feedback they get from patrons instead of ignoring comments or suggestions.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ellis doesn’t think there will be any backlash to the new campaign or rules.

“We expect that students will appreciate being asked to remember others and moderate their conversations and cellphone use, particularly because it is their own peers who have requested it,” he said.

Students who want to use their cellphones now have to go to the external stairwells or the main foyer.

Mr. Ellis said talking isn’t being banned in the QE II, rather students should think twice about their surroundings before stopping to chat with friends. He said students are free to talk in group study rooms and in common areas like the main foyer, for example, when they need to consult with a librarian.

“Aside from the silent reading room, where silence precludes conversation, and the areas designated for cellphone use, we have not approached the problem by designating no-talking areas,” he explained. “[Instead we are] reminding users that they should keep conversation low and to a minimum throughout the building in order to avoid disturbing other users.”


Sip and study

The Quiet Campaign isn’t the only new thing happening at the QE II this semester. For the first time, patrons can now sip on their Hazelnut coffee or Frappuccino while searching for a book.

A new policy that allows patrons to bring beverages into the hallowed halls and aisles of the library was quietly introduced earlier this semester and is just now being implemented.

The change means students can sip on drinks while studying or working in any part of the library ­ something that was considered taboo when the library first opened 24 years ago.

“The change was based on several considerations,” said University Librarian Richard Ellis. “First, beverages in containers … generally pose no problem. Spilled beverages pose a problem as does the garbage associated with disposable containers,” he said.

In addition to bottled water, which is already permitted, the library will now allow other drinks ­ but they have to in spill-proof containers.

Mr. Ellis said the new rules satisfies student’s demand and helps the environment. Regular coffee cups with snap-on lids will not be allowed. Instead, he suggests patrons purchase a spill-proof container ­ one that can be reused, thus reducing garbage.

There will be some areas into which beverages are not admitted because of the special nature of the materials being used, such as the Centre for Newfoundland Studies and the Archives and Manuscripts Division.

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