Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:


I am a sophomore at St. John’s College where my concentration is philosophy and theology. I have been troubled by the situation of our library for a long time, and I am finally deciding to write to you about this issue and hope that you will take the appropriate action in bringing this situation to the attention of those who are ignoring it.

The situation described by me is one you can familiarize yourself with when you walk into the main areas of the library, for example, the third floor where the philosophy and theology sections are. At all times of the day, the scene is one out of a bar, restaurant, or cafe lounge, where slang, soda, and hellos are flying across the room raucously. The so-called “study groups” are really gathered around a few laptops either watching music videos or movies, or else stridently recounting the latest scoop. The amounts of food the students bring up to the reading areas are downright embarrassing; full meals are served on the library tables and a fountain of liquids is quenching the thirst for “knowledge.”

I have had days in which I walked away in dismay and tears. I needed to sit down for a half an hour to consult a number of books, but I had to check ten books out because the noise chased me away. I would like to plead with my colleagues at St. John’s University, that we ensure respect and understanding for everyone’s right to silence and study, in a PUBLIC space that has long been associated with academia. Let’s not turn this place that concerns books and their worth in our education into a club where we can plug-in, log-on and yell-phone. Our world has become pandemoniac, it’s true, but WE don’t have to turn into senseless talking machines.

I have brought this issue to the attention of Ms. Theresa Maylone, Executive Director of Planning and Operations at the library. The first reaction was “I will not police the library.”

I felt completely misunderstood. Are rules, regulations, and suggestions totalitarianism? How do the libraries of Columbia University and Queens College of CUNY manage to enforce their rules without making the front page of the New York Post for psychologically abusing their students?

I have spent time in these above-mentioned places and yes, all you can hear is the humming of the lights. I am sorry, Ms. Maylone, the library is where the world’s knowledge resides, more or less, and it is fit to provide an environment where we, as studious college students, can tap into this legacy unhindered by the selfish behavior of students who, due to a generational epidemic, are etiquette illiterate and who-cares centered. If they lack the basic training, the school must fill in and do its job to EDUCATE and HELP. Not to stand aside and join in the whatever refrain. How can the library educate its goers?

Perhaps by having one or two debates about what the library environment entails, just like we had laptop training when we came to St. John’s; and by posting visible signs on all floors until the message sinks in. And last but not least, have Ms. Maylone herself maybe visit the floors and make sure the students are receptive to the library regulations. And if they are not, Ms. Maylone’s job and responsibility is to simply tell them to cease the noise, in a crisp clear politics-free tone of voice, because the library serves the needs of ALL students (paying $10,000+ tuition), not just of a boisterous unfortunate majority.

P.S. I need to acknowledge all the students that behave academically in our libraries, and thank them for setting an example, however unheeded by their clamorous peers. I would also like to commend the dedication and consideration of our library staff, and be grateful for their assistance and warmth. Let us give the library what belongs to the library: freedom of silence.

Anca Suiu


St. John’s College