Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Messy, Smelly, Noisy.

You all know how I love my job. But I find I need a moment here to blow off some steam. So...fair warning. Tedious rant to follow.

The administrators recently made a decision to allow food and drinks in the library. I was opposed, but my vote doesn't count. It was a personal opposition. It is true that people often snuck things in, but we could ask them to take it outside if we came upon someone with food. Now, everyone walks in with their giant drinks and bags of fast food. It is worst in the Children's Room, because those kids are hungry after school.  Totally get that...but have your snack, THEN come into the library. Seems reasonable.  But no, we want everyone to like us...libraries have self-esteem issues, for sure. 

Okay. I guess I have three main complaints surrounding this issue.

First, I admit that I worry about the books.  While it is true that when people check out books and take them home, they will certainly have food around them.  However, if they bring them back ruined, we know who to hold accountable! In here, things can get wrecked with no accountability, unless an employee chanced to see it happen.

Second, the smell is horrible. I mean, the Children's Room can get rather ripe just with the adolescent bodies crowding the place...they can't really help that. But add in bags of El Pollo Loco and Carl's Jr.  OMG, you guys, I love fast food, but this place gets disgustingly full of food smells that are not pleasing...and the smell has no where to go. It just lingers. They throw their trash into the little cans around the room (best case scenario, by the way)  and it SITS there. Smelling.

Third, it changes the whole feel of the place. I have seen it over the past couple of weeks. The kids, not even thinking about it I'm sure, behave totally differently. They are in the cafeteria, the courtyard, on a little picnic. They are so much louder! They don't feel like they are in a place to do work and be respectful of others. I spend so much more time now walking that fine line of keeping the room under control, yet being friendly and welcoming. "Hey, kids! We love having you here, but you could you possibly shut the fuck up?" Um, sorry...that is the fantasy I have been reduced to lately.

I guess that is my rant. And I guess I will adjust, because that is the nature of life. We adjust. Ugh.


silly rabbit said...

I feel your pain! When I was running my school library, one of our several principals over the years decided to allow kids to eat and drink in the library. Immediately teachers grasped the idea that they could throw parties in the library and everyone could walk out when the party was over. Sure, teachers did ask the kids to toss their trash and most did. But I spent many hours cleaning up messes and trying to rub out smashed cupcake or soda from my carpets.
You are so right to worry about what could happen to the books too. A spilled drink can ruin a book quickly! Pages get stuck together and the type gets ripped away.
Fortunately, after a year went by and we got a new principal, I was able to convince him that no food should be allowed in the library.
My sanity returned.
Perhaps you should keep a running track of the carpet stains and book damage. Perhaps if they can see a cost to that indulgence it would help.
I agree too that when food enters a room, children see it as a social place, not a quiet or learning place. They can lose control.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Wow, what a stupid decision. For all the reasons you said. And I'd add that people are noisy eater/drinkers. If I'm sitting in a library trying to concentrate, I don't want to listen to someone eating.

Tara said...

That's ridiculous that they allow people to bring food in now. Libraries are meant to be quiet so that people can relax, read, focus and/or study. It's not a cafeteria.

The management should also be concerned about the condition of the books and the library!

Anonymous said...

I had a bad feeling ever sense you Tweeted about the policy change, it sounds even worse then I initially thought. I can't believe the thoughtlessness.

My local library does allow food-but in a small "cafe" area away from the books. I haven't gone in there but it seems like a much better option.

laura b. said...

Silly: It sounds like you completely understand how I am feeling. I really appreciate that. It is so odd. The people making these decisions are experienced Librarians, but they are so worried about being a happening hang out place that the books are quite a ways back in their thoughts these days. Makes me sad.

Secret: You're right. There is noise just associated with eating, aside from the social parts that people seem to bring into it. Not an atmosphere conducive to concentration.

Tara: It is really discouraging that the mucky mucks have chosen to really set aside their common sense. Felt like they have just sort of thrown up their hands in defeat.

Silver: Yes, once everyone got wind of the 'food allowed' policy they have taken such full and crazy advantage of it! I think a separate little area for snacks sounds much nicer and more of a compromise.

Churlita said...

That sounds like messy business. When I worked at the university library, no one was supposed to eat, and we still found wrappers. I can't imagine how much worse that would be if people weren't trying to hide it.

laura b. said...

Churlita: It's kind of a nightmare. We did used to find wrappers, but now there is trash everywhere even though we try to catch them and tell them to toss it.