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JMCSD's avatar

Is it normal for a library to 'hold on to' your cell?

Asked by JMCSD (243 points ) December 10th, 2012

Do many libraries prohibit cell phone pocession? Reason I ask is someone mentioned they have to give theirs up when they go in. I believe it is a college library but I’m not postive.

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11 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Sure sounds like a good idea! But no, I have never heard of it. Our local public library does not allow cell phone use in the stacks or the reading room.

The_Idler's avatar

No, its utterly ridiculous and I’ve never heard of such a thing before.

My Japanese dictionary is on my phone.
I can quickly check things on the web through my phone.
My phone has a scientific calculator.
Why shouldn’t I be able to use SMS/e-mail to communicate with my friends/colleagues?
“Can’t call, I’m in the library” / “Are you at library? Stuck on CHM3045B Q2b…”
My timetable, memos, appointments, notes, &c. are stored on my phone.

Of course, they must be kept in silent mode, and calling is forbidden, but phones are too useful to confiscate just for their potential to make noise. I could go into the library and start clapping… is the solution to chop off everybody’s hands as they enter? No, just eject the offending individual.

Maybe it’s because I’ve only ever lived in England and Japan, but I’ve never seen anyone making a call in the library. At my university library in England, we have a sound-proofed box room on each floor, for making calls. Now that’s a good idea.

Sunny2's avatar

I can understand why they might do that in a college library. Too much talking results in some libraries, I’m sure.

_Whitetigress's avatar

This reminds me of the UCLA student racist rant.

Many libraries I know about don’t prohibit cell phone use. In fact in a college I don’t see why cell phone holding is relevant, they’re nearly all young adults and should understand that talking on the phone in the library is pushing it?

jerv's avatar

If they asked for mine, I will ask for security. Given the info I have on there, it would run them well into five figures. If setting it to vibrate isn’t enough, as it is for every library I’ve been to, and they won’t pony up enough collateral for the stuff I have on there, they can fuck themselves.

Had an HR guy at my company try that; he didn’t last long with the company.

@Sunny2 There are silent ways to communicate via phone. This isn’t 1983.

iphigeneia's avatar

I was under the impression that libraries these days have special silent sections for those who want to study. At least, that’s the case in the public and university libraries I’ve visited. I’ve also never had a problem with people’s phones making noises in these areas: it’s always chatter between friends, people eating, people sniffling, or rain.

True, more people should learn to turn off vibrate in silent mode, if they’re going to be receiving texts every minute, but making people give up their phones is not on. I use my phone all the time, for a number of purposes, several of them relevant to studying. Security’s also an issue. I don’t like this policy.

McCool's avatar

I have never heard of this being done in libraries. The only time I’ve ever seen a situation similiar to this was in High School or Jr. High libraries where the students were toying around with their phones and as a result had them taken away.

I agree with @iphigeneia about security. I wouldn’t trust others to “hold on to” my cell.Too many things can go wrong.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I do not know of this situation but I’ll bet they had a problem with a few people not respecting the rules. Since they were not permitted to eject them for loud talking and disturbing the peace they came up with this rule which is easy to enforce. If yo are found with a phone you are asked to leave.

A polite user silently texting will not disturb anyone. An idiot with a ringtone banging out Gangnam Style does – as will a phone set to vibrate and causally left on a shared table.
Some people simply have no common sense or respect for others.
By banning the phones people will be more likely to keep them in their pockets with the ringer off.

Maybe some nice librarian here can fill us in and explain why or why not this is appropriate.

Re; the security issue. I worked in a high magnetic field area for a while. Before we entered the area we put our phones AND wallets in an unlocked, unguarded cardboard box so the contents would not be erased. No one lost anything. Mutual respect is a wonderful thing.

janbb's avatar

This does seem like a rather unusual policy. I can only assume that there has been a history of cell phone usage abuse in that library and that they have had to resort to this measure (or felt they had to.) Our reference area is also the main computer lab on campus. Occasionally the noise does get above a dull roar and it is disturbing to other students. We banned cell phone use initially but now have caved as long as the talking is not over loud. Most libraries and librarians today vacillate between not wanting to fulfill the old shushing librarian stereotype and the desire on some patrons’ part for a modicum of peace and quiet. I would say that librarians’ ethics and policies err on the side of privacy; the ALA has taken stances against the FBI’s seizure of library records, so I would not worry overmuch about your cellphone’s private files being searched.

It would certainly be valid for you to question the library about the reason for this policy, though.

SuperMouse's avatar

We allow cell phones at the college library where I work. Cell phones only become an issue when a person is having an incredibly loud or passionate conversation and when they are being used on the quiet floor. In those instances we ask the patron to leave until they are done on the phone. We have yet to take a single phone from a patron. I can see there being a no cell phone policy at a high school library where the rules are necessarily more strict.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s not normal. It’s the sign of a frustrated librarian who doesn’t know how to exercise power in an effective way. It is completely unnecessary. There are more effective ways of getting people to be polite. @SuperMouse mentioned one.

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