An open letter to library loudmouths

By in Opinions

The higher your altitude, the lower your voice should be — it’s a simple rule that seemingly few can abide by in our university’s prime research and study facility.

It is understood that the ground floor of Murray Library is the place to be if you want to study without having to completely sacrifice conversation with your friends. It is exempt from the rules present in the upper levels, which — generally beginning from the first floor and upwards — are quiet zones.

Shut up or get out. This place is for studying.

Thanks to all its foot traffic, the presence of Starbucks and the large tables fitted to create a common study space, ground floor Murray is the special exception to quiet zone rules.

Sometimes there are people with little to no voice control, and while they’re probably not standing on a table and shouting or anything, it can get annoying. But, hey, it’s ground floor Murray — conversations are everywhere. Just put in some earphones or move up to the other floors. Problem solved, right? Nope.

Despite more than adequate signage and the best efforts of library staff and the U of S Students’ Union Student Crew, it’s still hard to find focus in these upper-level spaces.

I’m not trying to set the standard so high that everyone must tiptoe to their study cubicles, hold their breath when they’re breathing too loudly thanks to a cold or limit the quantity of crap in their backpacks, which so loudly rustles as they dig through to find something.

Even within the Reading Room and North Wing, perfect silence is not and cannot be maintained all the time. I’m not asking for perfect silence. I’m asking for quiet.

I’ve heard countless people pick up phone calls and just have the time of their life talking to their mom or friend. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself, but I can assure you, I am not. I stress over assignments while you’re talking to Rick about that show on Netflix.

Thinking of bringing your six-person study group up to the fourth or fifth floor? Please think again. When you plop down all those books right next to occupied study cubicles and proceed to chat as loudly as possible, you’re not only killing time with your buddies, you’re also extending the suffering of others who just want to finish their essay and go to bed.

Yeah, I’d like to not be petty about this and just study at home more often — I am envious of people who can actually get work done in the same place they eat and sleep — but I’m not the only one who has to drag themselves to Murray in order to be genuinely productive.

If someone does call you out for being loud and disruptive, remember that they are not only speaking on behalf of everyone but are also immediately considered the hero of the day, because there were definitely plenty of people who wanted to work up the nerve. That is solidarity right there, and boy, is it beautiful.

I’ve resorted to wearing earbuds and moving anywhere I thought that people would be quiet, and I haven’t found my peace. I’ve even given into shushing people when asking nicely doesn’t work, and I’m considering resorting to just plain being mean in the future — which is the last thing I’d like to do, though I know I’m coming off as a prick writing an entire article about library etiquette in the Sheaf.

This is my plea to you: if you’re not on the ground floor, please be considerate of your surroundings. You’re not the only one occupying the library floors. There are plenty of places on campus to socialize if you find you’re unable to conduct yourselves properly.

Please be mindful that you are sharing a space with students who reserve the right to shush and so often don’t. Quiet zones literally only exist to give students room to focus, study and get shit done — be respectful, as others are for you.

Cleo Ngyuen

Photos: Aqsa Hussain