Finals are over and the Libraries are definitely much emptier now than they were a week ago, but that doesn’t stop us from sharing this great interaction between one of our librarians and a student. Did you ever wonder about library etiquette when it comes to someone’s noisy cold? Bruce Broker knows how to handle that (which might help you for next finals season!).
No matter how big or small, always remember that you can ASK a Librarian. There are options for online chat, texting, visiting in-person, calling over the phone, making an appointment, or writing through email.
Bruce “the Information” Broker has been working at College Library since 1990. In addition to being part of College Library’s reference staff, he supervises the 30 or so technology support student assistants based at College Library. He also manages the largest equipment checkout operation on campus at the Computer and Media Center.
Broker told us, “I love many things about my job at College Library. I loved my years as a student at UW-Madison. I was very happy when I had the opportunity to stay connected to a part of my life that I loved. College Library has a very non-hierarchical environment that has encouraged me to take on many important duties/services. My superb office view of Lake Mendota isn’t bad, either!”
And now, for the chat:
9:06 Student: Hi there. I feel that as a librarian, you would know the best etiquette for this: how does one politely inform a person in a quiet area that their coughing/throat clearing is very distracting?
9:07 Student: I’m talking like 4 times per minute
9:07 Student: and I don’t have a cough drop
9:07 Bruce: Hi. This is Bruce at College Library.
9:07 Student: and yes, this is ridiculous
9:07 Student: hi bruce
9:07 Student: can you help me with some library etiquette?
9:08 Bruce: Well, as you probably know, that’s sort of a tough one (especially since the person is probably not even conscious of the fact that their cough is disturbing others).
9:08 Bruce: Is that here in College Library?
9:08 Student: nope, I’m in ebling
9:08 Student: the epicenter of overstressed students
9:12 Student: hmm, perhaps there is no solution and I must go find my inner peace
9:12 Student: perhaps none of this is real and we’re all just orbs of energy bouncing into one another
9:12 Student: profound
9:12 Bruce: Oh. OK. Well…if you are up for approaching the person, you could apologetically approach the person and say something like “I’m sorry to even talk to you about this because you probably can’t help it. I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but your coughing is sort of loud and at least as distracting as someone talking. Is there any chance it can be reduced or is there a chance you can find an area without noise restrictions?”
9:13 Bruce: It’s easy for me to say something like that, but I’m a naturally confrontational person.
9:13 Student: oh, I like that!
9:13 Bruce: Tailor that to make it even nicer, of course. Tone is critical. Sound very sorry, but desperate.
9:14 Student: you should write an advice column, Bruce
9:14 Bruce: Oh, stop it!
9:15 Student: hahaha, okay, I’m off to give it a shot
9:15 Bruce: I would enjoy, it, though….
9:15 Bruce: Let me know how it goes!
9:16 Student: well, english does not seem to be her first language
9:16 Student: but I think I got the message across
9:16 Student: mostly pointing at my throat
9:17 Bruce: Excellent!
9:17 Student: we have gone 15 seconds without a noise though so it’s an improvement!
9:17 Bruce: When words fail, gestures can do wonders….
9:17 Student: Thanks again, Bruce! Ask a Librarian saves the day!
9:17 Bruce: Just let us know if you have any other questions/issues.
9:18 Student: definitely, thanks!
Well done, “The Information” Broker!