As I type I am sitting at a table deep in the bowels of the Robertson Library at the University of PEI. It is snowing outside. I have just finished a toasted bagel with vegetable cream cheese, and beside me sits a piping hot cup of green tea with lemon. In another era this would induce paroxysms of protest from any librarians in the vicinity. But today’s library is different: the library’s Food and Drink/Noise Policy has been updated to allow food and drink — at least food and drink that’s not “smelly or messy” — in most places in the library. Including at this very table.
This is all an outgrowth of the replacement of the Reference Desk with a coffee shop this month. And while said coffee shop serves only much the same generic goo that the other campus food outlets serve, somehow the opportunity to purchase Glosette Raisins to be consumed while reading The Book of Kells seems, if not quite revolutionary, at least a step in the right direction.
As far as I know the Robertson Library’s ban on “prolonged conversations” remains in place, and I skirted up against this rule when my friend John Cousins stopped by my table a minute ago and our conversation came very close to being prolonged. Fortunately I was able to nip things in the bud and John went on his way right on the extended-prolonged conversational border.
When I lived in residence and it was time to do some serious studying literally the only place on campus that wasn’t used for noisy socializing by students that I could use was the dark corners of the library. It felt like a refuge away from background noise chattering that I needed to get work done. I’m hoping this is still true for a reasonably large portion of the library after these current changes are all rolled out. UNB’s engineering library had a good solution of two separate rooms, one completely quiet, where even unzipping your kitbag loudly was frowned on, and the other room where the tables full of first year EE students could gather around and copy each other’s CS homework.