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Fordham Library Etiquette

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Fordham University

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Fordham Library Etiquette

Tips on how to become a better library patron and a less shitty human being

Jessica Mannino

12.14.16

There is no such thing as a "perfect" library citizen. However, the lack of a prescribed customary code has left the masses in disarray. How are you to know if you're that guy? Not one book in the damn place explains the etiquette expected of its patrons. It seems as though the library has an impressive amount of faith in the decency of humanity, which is more than any other granite fixture can say. In order to pay back the library for its many affordances, I penned a list of Club Lib Decorum.

1. The People vs. The Tickle In Your Throat


If you have allergies that make sounds, know your place. Everyone in this library hates something in this world - you just happen to be the common denominator. Bringing a cold to a library is like bringing a homemade sandwich to a chain restaurant. You’re highly aware of your indecency, but you play it off like you had no other choice. The fact of the matter is, you do have discretion over where you study, and if you so choose to bring your cold along for the ride, there are certain (unwritten but implied) social codes to which the Fordham library holds you.

A coughing hierarchy exists, and the colorless, unvarying “EHMMMMM” grunt is arguably a leading offender. All variations of this dry cough leave both the cougher and implicated neighbor frustrated and thirsty. While coughing is inherently annoying, there is something to be said for someone who gets the job done. The hearty, wet-cough may be gross in theory, but letting it all out in one large stride will relieve your audience of second-hand trauma.

2. You and Your Insincere Whisper-Laugh


There are some things in this world that are unarguably hysterical: zooming in very intimately to an animate or inanimate object on Snapchat, anti-jokes, Will Ferrell, and just about everything when you’re high. Sometimes when things are funny, we convulsively twitch - or, laugh. It is not that library moguls are trying to shame others for this reflex. It is just generally observed that people, for some reason - perhaps the pervading air of solemnity that the library invites - tend to laugh more emphatically in the library than they would elsewhere. What often follows is a realization (“Oh shit, I’m laughing too loud”) that prompts a library-specific breed of laughter. It is hushed, yet intense; muffled, yet aggressive. Others look around, confounded by what, on this grim day, could be funny enough to warrant TWO forms of laughter. It’s not that you can’t laugh. You can! Just, for the sake of others, when you feel the urge coming on, excuse yourself to the bathroom or to the vending machine area where the world is your oyster.

3. Library Room: Party of 1


This is probably the most inexcusable exploitation of your university-endowed library rights. Taking up a full library room to yourself qualifies you as an asshole, even if you spread your stuff all over the place to forge the appearance that your companions are “just in the bathroom.” Part of your lot is having to endure the wrath of every bystander's gaze, though this is a rather generous penance. Ballsy strangers will rightfully set you straight and send you back to the third floor in the back left corner by the the “S-R” books where you belong.

4. Chips in Your Cosi Soup Syndrome


There is much gray area as far as eating is concerned. The food-restriction laws feebly enforced by the guards are inconvenient, but can be easily circumvented. This means that any type of food is free game so as long as it can be contained by a giant bag. So, in other words, anything. The important question that needs to be addressed is not what food is guard-approved (they don’t give a fuck they just don’t want to look at it), but rather, what food is peer-approved.

Food is socially acceptable if:

  • a) Its smell doesn’t offend
  • b) Its consumption doesn’t require preparation
  • c) Its digestion doesn’t mandate intense chewing

Things to avoid:

  • Anything Panda Express inspired (See “a”)
  • Punching a bag of chips to deflate the air and crushing them into makeshift croutons for your Cosi soup (See “b”)
  • Anything resembling a nut that you can hear yourself chew in your head (See “c”)

Things to eat:

  • Sushi
  • Welch’s fruit snacks

Enraged Editor Interjection: Another factor needs to be taken into account: packaging. If unveiling your snack involves using your index fingers and thumbs as delicate little crab claws to tear away at the adhesive boundary, then your packaging is clearly not library proof. The crab-claw-thing does not reduce aggravation amongst your surrounding students. It just prolongs their subjection to your selfish consumption. That being said, ripping it apart in an effort to avoid continuous noise still means you’re a dick! It’s pretty much a lose-lose situation. Unless you plan on dumping the entire contents of the package onto your desk (weird in itself), you’re going to have to continually reach into that noisy bag and pull the snack out of it.

Things to eat with quiet packaging:

  • A banana
  • A vine of grapes
  • Rat poison

5. White Noise


General things to avoid:

  • Nonuniform breathing patterns
  • Bowel irregularity
  • Obnoxious gum-chewing
  • Unnaturally enthused reception of people you see everyday
  • Syncopated tapping or kicking
  • Surround sound headphones
  • Schizophrenic pen clicking
  • Violently loud FaceTiming in the vestibule outside the reference room, etc.