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Striking the Balance Dealing with Conduct Problems in Academic Libraries -Vivian Lewis (McMaster University) -Helen Salmon (University of Guelph) February.

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Presentation on theme: "Striking the Balance Dealing with Conduct Problems in Academic Libraries -Vivian Lewis (McMaster University) -Helen Salmon (University of Guelph) February."— Presentation transcript:

1 Striking the Balance Dealing with Conduct Problems in Academic Libraries -Vivian Lewis (McMaster University) -Helen Salmon (University of Guelph) February 2007

2 Presentation Outline Context (how did we get here?) What are the problems? (a lurid tale) Implementation (real-life solutions) Some recommendations (the dos and the donts) Questions and discussion (lets share war stories)

3 The Context… Growth in the Ontario education system

4 The Context… Changes in the curriculum Learner-centredness Group learning Experiential vs. rote learning An emphasis on collaborative learning and development of critical thinking skills, rather than collecting and collating information A view of learning as an integrated process supported by many partners

5 The Context… Who are our users? Demographics= overcrowding Double cohort= younger users, with (sometimes) less maturity and more reluctance to do peer-to- peer enforcement of norms Who are the Millennials? fewer traditional students love group activity fascinated with new technology

6 The Context… Who are the Millennials? …their learning preferences tend toward teamwork, experiential activities, structure, and the use of technology. Their strengths include multitasking, goal orientation, positive attitudes and a collaborative style. Diana Oblinger. Boomers, Gen-Xers & Millenials: Understanding the New Students, Educause. July/August 2003, pg.38.

7 The Context… Who are we? Aging of the profession Librarian and staff training does not generally address student behavior management Societal/student perceptions and expectations of libraries and library staff are often out of date

8 The Context… How have we changed? (or not) Conflicts between traditional vs. new uses for libraries

9 The library is the only centralized location where new and emerging information technologies can be combined with traditional knowledge resources in a user-focused, service-rich environment that supports todays social and educational patterns of learning, teaching, and research. Whereas the Internet has tended to isolate people, the library, as a physical place, has done just the opposite. Within the institution, as a reinvigorated, dynamic learning resource, the library can once again become the centerpiece for establishing the intellectual community and scholarly enterprise. - Scott R. Bennett As an extension of the classroom, library space needs to embody new pedagogies, including collaborative and interactive modalities. Significantly, the library must serve as the principal building on campus where one can truly experience and benefit from the centrality of an institutions intellectual community. - Geoffrey T. Freedman Changing times, changing theories Library as Place: Rethinking Roles, Rethinking Space. Washington: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2005.

10 The Context… How have we changed? Rapid technological change almost everything a student does requires a computer (library resources, courseware, productivity tools) people can do more in libraries now; we dont have just one uniform kind of activity going on in our spaces Its a wired, wired, world!

11 The Context… How have we changed? (or not) Change in social expectations about… How and where we learn What a student is Separation of work/home/school/leisure Role of authority figures

12 The Context… Aging facilities, with a lack of expansion or new building + growth of student numbers and collections ________________________ = overcrowding of public spaces in our libraries

13 Common complaints -Noise problems (users and staff) -cell phone use -verbal or physical misconduct -Inappropriate use of computers -Computer or carrel camping -Destruction of library materials or equipment -Non-compliance with food and drink regulations (where they exist) -Garbage and graffiti

14 Real Life Examples

15 Hitting the wall at Mac 22,000 students – 1,900 seats. Hit the wall December 2005 – noise, cell phones and carrel claiming, etc. 3 libraries: 3 stories Lack of clarity and consistency

16 The complaints On crowding We are paying enough tuition that you should be able to provide us with some quiet room to study. My grades shouldnt have to suffer simply because I spent two hours every day looking for a place to sit. On sleeping in the library Nappers should be brought back to consciousness and removed by their ears! NAPPERS, NAP ELSEWHERE!!

17 The Complaints On conduct in general Students are yapping away on their cell phones, theyre singing along with their MP3 players, theyre making out in corners, theyre sleeping on the floor, theyre leaving their trash everywhere. Stop the madness!

18 Short-term Strategies Brought Judicial Affairs Coordinator (Student Affairs) on board. March 2006: Held focus groups with 21 student representatives to discuss community solutions April 2006: Launched quick and dirty poster campaign focusing on exam period.

19 Zoning the Building

20 Long-term Strategies Summer 2006: Met with staff and students. Drafted Regulations Governing Personal Conduct. Fall 2006: Unveiled new regulations and publicity. Held staff meetings with Campus Security to discuss enforcement.

21 Other Deliverables Established new 3-step strategy for dealing with difficult students (1 st contact: Information; 2 nd contact: Warning; 3 rd contact: ID or leave (or call Security) Firmed up process for Judicial Affairs to deal with infractions through the Student Code of Conduct. Now altering duties of Control staff to put more emphasis on monitoring. Result: Noticeably improved …for now!

22 Guelphs story… much the same Rapid expansion from 13,000 to 20,000 students in 5 years Increasing pressures for students - noise, cell phones and competition for seats and computers Lack of clarity and consistency around policies and staff roles

23 No Parking policy University of Guelph introduced winter 2005 Addressed wide-spread problem of computer camping Reporting to any staff member Enforcement by building facilities staff, with removal of personal items Protocols worked out through close consultation with campus police

24 Sharing our Library University of Guelph introduced fall 2006 Amalgamates a number of previous campus and library policies Addresses a wide range of behavioural and building use issues FAQs for: –"quiet" vs. "group" use? –violating the policy? –Soliciting or fund- raising?

25 Things to consider Space Design Consultation Policy development Staff training Enforcement Publicity

26 1. Space Design: Facilities Shape Behaviour Use physical space and furnishings to reinforce the intended use of the space and shape/encourage desired behaviours Provide for a range of different needs and uses Consider the proximity of different kinds of uses (and not create conflict for our users by ill-planned layouts) Signal respect for the building and its contents through facilities upkeep and garbage control

27 Possible solutions… Facilities shape behaviour … what behaviours do we want in an academic library? Good library spaces celebrate and support the importance of social relationships between members of a community ….. They promote the types of interaction and integration which enable social networking and [access to] information resources. Goulding, A., Libraries and Social Capital, Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. 36 (1): 3-6 Mar 2004.

28 The good…

29 the bad…

30 …and the truly ugly

31 Theres Hope! Our libraries are often aging and poorly designed – what to do? Incremental changes Proof of concept Seek partners Reduce (collections footprint), reuse, recycle

32 2. Consultation…Talking to users Consultation with users necessary to: Gain better understanding of the problem Promote understanding and tolerance across various lobbying groups (students, staff, faculty, etc.) Find creative solutions that will work within the context of your campus culture Foster shared ownership of the problems and the solutions. Support peer-to-peer enforcement.

33 What does consultation look like Consult with different lobby groups in different ways. Tailor the tools based on your own campus culture. Some ideas: –Open meetings & focus groups for students. –Focus groups for staff –Liaison librarians and formal university committees for faculty.

34 3. Policy Development Develop clear policies around core problems/issues…. Such code of conduct policies need to: Specify unwanted behaviour(s) Clearly indicate how the policy will be enforced (who? How to report? Consequences?) Indicate relationship of the library policy to other campus regulations and policies Provide a public contact or sponsor for the policy

35 4. Staff Involvement Engage staff in honest discussion of the problems and the solutions. Clearly define staff and user roles in enforcement. Provide staff with the tools and training to do the job REMEMBER: Staff are crucial to the success of implementation!

36 5. Enforcement! Highlights from Tips for Enforcing Library Regulations (copies available) 1.Remain calm. Try never to raise your voice. 2.Your facial expressions and your body language are critical. Smile. Avoid hostile or accusatory gestures… 3.Be aware of your own mood. If youre having a bad day, you may be making the situation worse… 4.If the student is angry, dont take it personally… Sergeant Cathy ODonnell

37 6. Publicity Tell the story everywhere!! Use signage, screensavers, bookmarks, web site Use their language and modes of communication Timing is crucial: roll out at beginning of term before patterns are set. Make visible changes where possible e.g. changes to building layout or furniture type/arrangement

38 Publicity Emphasize the behaviours you want … use positive reinforcement rather than negative and over-the-top restrictions and angry ultimatums Dont sweat the small stuff Keep it light

39 Offer Alternatives

40 Picture…worth a thousand words

41 Focus on desired behaviour

42 Sometimes need to provide the why

43 Were they the right solutions? Use formal (LibQUAL) and informal (suggestion box, staff feedback) modes of assessment Monitor what is happening at other libraries Be prepared to change your position (Clement, 1994) Switch up your strategies: Effect of any solution diminishes over time. (Dole, 1989)

44 The Donts: what can go wrong, what not to do Lack of community buy-in (students take no ownership of the rules) Lack of enforcement Lack of sanctions Poor timing (implemented too late in term – once patterns have been set)

45 Implementation problems…what can go wrong, what not to do Lack of university buy-in Recognize that there will be pressure from and conflict between different stakeholder groups The golden age of libraries - whose vision will prevail??

46 The Donts: Staff Behaviours Lack of staff buy-in (It wont work. Weve already tried that….) Inadequate understanding of the regulations Inadequate training on HOW to deal with non-compliant students. Unwillingness to comply with the regulations themselves! [perhaps the biggest hot potato of all!]

47 One Last DO: Retain your sense of humour… U of G Contrarion article (April 13 th, 2006): LIBRARY COMES UNDER FIRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES McLaughlin Library has come under fire recently for what some people are calling a growing list of human rights abuses. The secret police are everywhere, says one student who wishes to remain anonymous to protect his safety. Who do you think enforces the no parking policy? adds another concerned undergraduate, you never see them but believe me they exist. You go to the bathroom and get caught up talking with a friend, the next thing you know, pouf, your stuff vanishes from your computer, adds another anonymous source who says shes heard of mysterious disappearances in the middle of the night. … Another student [says] that he was held against his will. They held me for five hours without explanation, says Johnny Reed, who calls himself a political prisoner. Reed says he was eventually told he was under arrest for crimes against the express computers and told he was sentenced to $350 in late fees. Reed eventually managed to escape through a series of interconnected tunnels, but he remains shaken by the experience. They wouldnt even let me listen to my I-pod, he whimpers. … Despite the vehemence of their denials, library security will be subject to an intense UN investigation later this month.

48 A final word…. The libraries that are most successful are those that understand user needs, build trust between staff and patrons, encourage self-policing by users, provide realistic balance, offer alternatives, and approach the realities with a smile and, occasionally, a good laugh. Susan DiMattia, Silence is Olden, American Libraries, January 2005, p. 49.

49 Comments? Questions? War Stories? Tears?

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