Order is called in Norfolk’s libraries

As someone who grew up in Norfolk and enjoyed my local library in King's Lynn (particularly their numerous copies of the Narnia series!) I read with interest a BBC news article about a group set up by Norfolk County Council to look at conduct and etiquette in their libraries. I thought at first it was following on from the recent discussions about there being too much noise in libraries but it seems to be a very sensible idea to ensure all users respect library facilities, thus making libraries safe and enjoyable for all.

Norfolk has certainly modernised its libraries since I left home in 1996. For example, The Forum in Norwich has a wonderful library as well as the BBC, community learning organisations and event space, tourist and council information and a Pizza Express and coffee shop. All of this tempted my brother into a library for the first time in more than a decade. He now takes his three children there on a regular basis.

Will a code of conduct help improve behavioural standards in libraries? Has anyone already implemented a code of conduct – with positive or negative results?

3 comments to this post

  •  :  In a previous library I wored in we implimented a code of conduct to some extent. It was a set of Library Expectations that were placed around the library. What we found it did was give the staff something to refer to when having to sort out unruly people. They were originally intended for the children's and Young Adult Library, but they came in useful all over the shop. They were 4 simple sentences which said things like, respect the space you are in and those around you. This simple phrases gace the staff pwer to asy to a, for example, noisy and rude person, look this space is used by a multitude of people and your behaviuor is not exceptable. It was put together by a Youth forum and went down quite well.
  •  :  I've worked in libraries that displayed information to young people asking for particular types of behaviour to be followed. These were drafted by young people, so the guidelines were felt to be representative and fair, rather than prospective sanctions. Guidelines for adults have often been, I've found, ad hoc and reactionary to a particular problem. Many libraries in the region where I work have moved away from any negative messages (i.e 'Don't do this, you can't do that' etc) - certainly in my library authority we try to turn negatives into positive messaging -so I was surprised to read in the Eastern Daily Press of the suggestion in the Norfolk Libraries example to have posters of burgers with red lines through... Wouldn't it be much better for staff to say 'thankyou for visiting the library, there is space to eat outside, though if you're not eating messy foods it's ok' etc., rather than relying on a sign to do the job for us?
  •  :  Like Suzanne, I also grew up in King's Lynn and have happy memories of regular trips to its libraries after school...and of using the local studies library several years later when I was carrying out some research on the King's Lynn Festival for my dissertation. I do not remember the behaviour being particularly terrible at the time but perhaps things have changed - in fact only yesterday a colleague was telling me that he had recently made his first trip to his local library in East London and that the noise and chaos had put him perhaps a code of conduct could be a good idea. I have only ever worked in HE rather than public libraries, and while the behaviour is (usually!) less unruly than you might find in a public library, as Katharine points out it is certainly useful to have something in print and on display that you can refer to.

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