Constitutional Rights and Wrongs at ASC

Anthony Guerrero
South Coloradan

College is a noisy place by default.  There are noisy dorms, obnoxious students, loud parties downtown and rowdy conversations in the halls.  Usually though, the campus offers a place where you can escape—a  place where you can sit down, read a book, do important research, surf the internet, type a term paper and where any distractions will be minimal.  This place is called a library.  But noise seems to be progressively more permissible in libraries.  This change is occurring most swiftly on college campuses, and our own Nielsen Library here at Adams State College is becoming a testament to the decay of the traditional, and quiet library.

During all my years in grade school, as well as high school, my peers and I were taught a library is to be a quiet place, where study is celebrated, and parties are prohibited.  We were taught it is not proper to carry loud conversations in the library, answer our cell phones, laugh inappropriately, and that any necessary talking should be very low and perhaps preferably in a whisper.  If people did not follow these rules, it usually would mean the librarian would scold them, and if their behavior persisted they would firmly be asked to leave.

When I first started college, the college library was a bit different.  The first floor of our library was designated as an area that was permissible to carry conversation, eat, or even meet in groups that might not be introverted by nature.  If you desired quiet there was the second floor where the encyclopedias, dictionaries, and reference librarian are located.  If you wanted complete isolation, there was the third floor, where your only companions are the many, many, lonely books.  This was reasonable, and perhaps appropriate for a college library.

Several years later our library is undergoing significant changes.  Most of these are positive and welcome, but some are questionable and irritating.  The second floor has been remodeled, and couches and recliners are ready for your comfortable use.  There are several more tables to study at, which are well lighted, and even have connections for our laptops.  If you don’t have a laptop there are even some available for checkout.  Incredible.  These changes are welcome and appreciated by students.  However, some changes are perhaps having a negative impact on the quiet nature of our library, where many students go to find solitude to study and learn.

Another recent change is the addition of a coffee shop on the second floor.  I am not one to complain about another place on campus where a tired student can find caffeine.  However, wouldn’t it have been better to place this on the first floor?  There are many loud conversations occurring at the shop, which is making studying next to impossible with all the distractions and laughter you will hear in the background.  This is probably worse if you are a student who is diagnosed with ADHD.  Studying is even more inconvenient with the Flat Screen T.V. that is constantly on, which sometimes has noisy sporting events, or other times the rants of Bill O’ Reilly.  The second floor of Nielsen Library is starting to feel more like the experience of being inside Invesco Field, rather than a sanctuary for the serious and busy college student.

To further illustrate my point consider the following.  Do you sometimes have something to quickly type at noon, which is perhaps due at 1 p.m.?  Do you rush to the library where you can be assured the setting will be quiet?  Well, not any more you won’t.  Now you can look forward to a “Lunchtime Concert Series” that will occur periodically on the second floor.  So far, it has been announced that the ASC concert band will play there.  I’ve been in, as well as listened to, concert bands.  It will be incredibly loud.  The floor will vibrate, and the sound will transcend from one floor to the next, so not even the third floor will be safe.  You are reading correctly, there will actually be concerts, at noon, in your college “library.”

So I have a question.  Does anyone have a suggestion of where to go to study in peace and quiet?  Library is no longer a viable answer….

3 responses to “Constitutional Rights and Wrongs at ASC”

  1. I have several responses to this article. My first reaction is that I’m sorry a student feels this way about our library. I agree that the new Information Commons should be a place where students can write papers, study for exams, and work on projects in peace.

    However, as someone who sits on the second floor for 12+ hours per week, I can honestly say that it is a quiet, peaceful place to study 99% of the time. I have never heard Bill O’Reilly or anyone else for that matter on the television because it is almost always muted with closed captions. I’ve literally sat up on the 2nd floor for hours at a time this semester without hearing a peep from anyone. The rare times that students have become too rambunctious in the library, we say something to them. It’s as simple as that.

    Also, as a librarian, I am so glad that the days of us having to “scold” naughty patrons are over. Seriously, who wants to deal with a stuffy librarian castigating students for speaking in a voice that isn’t a whisper? I believe that we can speak in reasonable, non-whisper tones and still provide students with a quiet place to study.

    Finally, I believe that libraries should be a place not just for studying, but also for receiving information and being exposed to culture. The lovely half hour of music in the library on the second floor is just another type of information being housed here and a different kind of opportunity to learn.

  2. Mr. Guerrero,

    Thank you for you thoughtfulness and your concern. As you are well aware of, the Nielsen Library at Adams State College is an environment where civic engagement occurs, where intellectual stimulation and freedom is celebrated, and yes, sometimes studying happens.

    I assure you, the changes at Nielsen Library come with much consideration for all of our students on campus. As you may know, the library has private study rooms on the second floor located on the east and west end of the building. You can also tuck yourself away, as you mentioned, on the third floor where study carrels are located in order to write a paper or read. There are still many places at Nielsen Library where quiet and thoughtful reflection can happen.

    As far as the “Concert Series” is concerned. The performances last all but 30 minutes once a month. The next concert will consist of a small group of instrumental chamber music. The selection of music and timing of this series was carefully chosen with student, staff, community, and faculty in mind. The library of which you were accustomed to in grade and high school is changing on college campuses across the country to meet the needs of all students. Many students on campus can have a book open, their I Pod playing, and text with their free hand. Other students, such as yourself, prefer the solitude. Students want a comfortable and dynamic work setting. We are trying to meet the needs of this diverse learning community as well as the traditional student.

    Thank you again for your concern,

    Paul Mascarenas
    Reference Librarian

  3. How did this article get the title “Constitutional Rights and Wrongs at ASC”? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good article that brings up some very valid points, but I think the title may be a misprint. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet