7 library etiquette tips from a third-year student

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Love them or loathe them, you’ll inevitably spend time in libraries at university, whether you’re powering through a coursework crisis, exam revision, or a much-needed nap. But going to the library isn’t as simple as you might imagine. There are codes, decimals, floors and shelves… And books, so many books. For you fresh-faced first-years out there, even once you’ve mastered navigating the library, you might still feel like an amateur amongst the second and third-year students. So, here are some handy tips on etiquette that’ll help you look oh-so natural in the library.

1. Never talk at full volume

Whisper, always whisper. It’s a no-brainer really. You shouldn’t really be talking at all (because you’re supposed to be working or reading, remember?). If you break this golden rule of library-going and talk louder than necessary, you may have a sharp ‘shush’ coming your way (the kind of attention you really don’t want).

2. Plug in your headphones

Whether the headphones are actually in your ears as you listen to music or just lying idly on the desk, it’s very important they’re plugged into your laptop or phone. Why? Firstly, if you put your headphones in, it’s the universal ‘do not disturb’ sign, so you can study in peace. Secondly, it’ll save you from forgetting your volume is maxed out and accidentally clicking on one of those viral Facebook meme videos, allowing the entire library to hear. Happens way more than you think…

3. Do build a book tower beside you

Not only do you seem instantly smarter, but also, stacking up as many books as you possibly can will save you from being that annoying person creating a draught by running up and down the shelves every five minutes to source more references for that last-minute assignment. No one likes a distracting draught.

4. But don’t hog resources

That said, don’t add any books to your book tower that you don’t think you’ll really need. If you take extra books for the sake of it, you’re wasting library resources and probably other people’s precious time.

5. Try not to stare at other people

You probably scoffed as you read that – I mean, duh. It’s straight-up creepy to just stare at people in general. But, believe me, you’ll find yourself doing this way more in a library than you’ll care to admit. Perhaps you’re daydreaming, and your gaze happens to accidentally land on a person; or, just as likely, you’ve probably found eye-candy to distract you from revision…

6. Avoid crunchy snacks

Most, if not all libraries, have a strict no food and drink policy (except bottled water) for many reasons. But, if you really must sneak in a little power snack, at least make it a quiet bite that you can conceal between your folders or in your bag. Don’t forget to tear open any noisy wrappers before walking in the library, and avoid anything with a crunch. Popcorn is probably a no-go, then.

7. Keep the small talk to a minimum

If you’re always catching your table neighbour's eye to initiate small talk (which, let’s be honest, nobody really enjoys), you’ll probably just drive them away to another table. Especially if they’re mid-dissertation. Most people go to the library to study, so it’s best to respect their wishes.

OK, we’ll admit that library vibes aren’t the most entertaining. But they do serve a purpose. Do you have any top library etiquette tips? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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