Dylan Magner reckons we could all do with a refresher course on library etiquette and he’s just the man to set us straight.
THE James Joyce Library, located in the Newman (Arts) Building in UCD, is a genuine behemoth of literature. Four stories of books, film and audio littered with PCs and free-to-rent laptops, the scale and depth of the institution means that, regardless of your field or how esoteric your research is, you will – more often than not – find what you are looking for to further your knowledge of your chosen subject, or pad out your bibliography.
However, the term ‘library’, in this instance, is actually a huge misnomer, which serves to undersell the vast litany of functions which old Joyce’s namesake serves to provide the bright young students at Ireland’s premier university. The library acts as a buzzing social hub, restaurant, social media epicentre and, in the case of the restrooms; landfill for discarded water bottles, used TP and unmentionable bodily fluids. With that being said, here are a few things I think you should bear in mind next time you go to use the library.
When I go to a nightclub or down the local I don’t take out a copy of The Great Gatsby and start diligently taking notes on an A4 pad, by the same token, when I go to the library I don’t congregate with six of my pals in the corner, loudly discussing the validity of Marxism between burst of obnoxious laughter.
Unfortunately, there are some people (one group in particular who will be known to anybody who uses the library regularly) who seem to have confused the library with the shop located DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH the library. In other words, sit down, study and shut up!
If you feel the urge to debate third wave feminism, go downstairs and grab a skinny latte. Also, on the subject of fine literature, writing and highlighting on library copies of books is an ignorance I find maddening and, actually, a little difficult to understand.
Literature, of course, is not confined purely to the massive catalogue of books in the UCD library. In the bathrooms (both in the library and on campus) there is an abundance of amateur graffiti, hammering out all our current socio-economic problems from the migrant crisis to the 8th Amendment to the validity of a democratic election, as well as a variety of obscure, inexplicable statements such as: ‘Fuck Laois!’
I think we can all agree that Laois is a fairly pointless county, but relatively harmless, and thus should be met with some light-hearted slagging as opposed to profanity laced aggression. The graffiti also highlights the prominence of conservative voices on campus, most of which are afraid to speak out publicly (a subject for another article); however, regardless of your political tendencies, the cubicle door is not the place to etch them.
On the subject of hygiene and bathroom etiquette, I’ll sum it up in one statement: if you cannot hit the bowl, you have no business being in college. Toilet paper belongs in the bowl also and not on the floor, orange peels and spare change belong in or on neither.
On a serious note, someone has to clean these toilets every hour. So while Johnny Hipster and Janie Feminist are busy writing impassioned essays on equality and respect for all people no matter their gender, race, religion or socio-economic background, when they take a break to take care of business, they’re perfectly happy to let Olga the Eastern European cleaner pick up after them. They fail to offer her an equivalent real life courtesy their virtuous rhetoric espouses in their writings on the working classes in other cultures and societies; plus their unwillingness to offer these people eye contact or hold doors open for them when they’re carting around a trolley of cleaning supplies is beyond ignorant and elitist.
All in all, what it boils down to is in fact very simple: treat the library, its staff (both academic and otherwise) the way you would like to be treated. Have some self-respect, and leave Laois alone, it’s bad enough for those who live there as it is!