The University of Leicester is blowing the whistle on persistent Library loudmouths - by issuing them with yellow cards!
They have installed a team of 'referees' - a dedicated Quiet Patrol - to ensure that the only sound that greets users to the Library is silence.
The scheme has been so successful that other universities have shown an interest in what could be a model for libraries up and down the country.
Mrs Jo Aitkins, Public Services Librarian, said: "The Quiet Patrol was a scheme introduced at the start of the last academic year to reduce the noise levels in the Library.
"Students were employed to patrol the library during the weekdays and to give out yellow cards to users making a noise. The offender's details were then entered onto a database.
"The success of the scheme can be attributed mainly to the fact that a scheme of sanctions was introduced to support the issuing of yellow cards. These range from a warning letter from the Librarian, to the suspension of borrowing rights, the imposition of fines and bringing the matter to the attention of the student's academic department.
"The other factor making the scheme a success was the professionalism and robustness shown by the Quiet Patrollers in carrying out this difficult job, with support from the Library Duty Officers when necessary."
Mrs Aitkins said that problems faced by Library users included the use of mobile phones, personal stereos and, simply, inconsiderate users having a chat. "Noise can filter through across the Library and this can be distressing for the vast majority who wish to study.
"We try to be flexible in our approach and there are signs and notices across the Library reminding people to be quiet. We do not enjoy giving the yellow cards - we do try to warn people first."
A total of 207 cards were given out during the year and only four users received 3 cards thereby reaching the first stage of sanctions.
Mrs Aitkins added: "The cards are handed very discreetly - the aim is not to publicly humiliate the offender. The scheme is running again this year and I currently have 8 students doing a brilliant job.
Although the task is a bit like that of a traffic warden, the students in the Quiet Patrol have the backing of the majority of students and the University - they are helping to make the University of Leicester a better place to study."
NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information please contact: Mrs Jo Aitkins, Public Services Librarian, Telephone: +44 (0) 116 252 5180; Fax: +44 (0) 116 252 2066. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Two University of Leicester students, Nasir Rafiq and Melea McFarlane, are part of the Quiet Patrol team. Here they describe their experience of tackling any noise nuisance in the Library:
NASIR RAFIQ, 3rd year Business Economics:
I'm in my final year of Business Economics and this my second year as a 'Quiet Enforcer'. I'm the only one who survived from last year's team! I'm also the Social Science faculty rep and, since I attend the Union council meetings, I happen to know a lot of people studying in the Library.
Until now I have not faced many problems - Library users tend to go quiet whenever I am around! Whenever I catch anybody making "noise", I stop them - and I tell them that "They Have The Right to Remain Silent".
If they need to say anything, they could do so outside the 2nd and 3rd Floor of the Library. Then I request them to produce their library card - nice and "quietly", that is.
I think the Quiet Patrol is a very effective body for creating a peaceful and quiet environment. It is probably because we are students ourselves, helping other students to study in quiet environment. I really enjoy it!
MELEA McFARLANE 2nd year LLB Law:
The reactions I've receive from dishing formal and informal cautions are varied. They range from people who don't bother to acknowledge that you're talking to them, to others who will gladly accept the caution. If there is a hostile reaction, it stems from embarrassment and is not a personal insult.
The Quiet Patrol system does have an effect, but only for those who understand that quiet is essential in the Library - not to avoid a yellow card and then resume talking when the patroller is out of earshot - but out of consideration for others.
The work is not bad -it can be rewarding at times. Sometimes, if I come upon a couple deeply engaged in conversation all they need is to be directed to the group study areas. Problem solved, people helped.
This job has become an integral part of my timetable as are my lectures. In fact, it is my class in diplomatic relations!
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