Thursday, May 9, 2013

Silent Zone

From the Suggestion Box:

To whom it may concern, The following suggestion is regarding the "Silent Zone" recently put in place in the second floor of the JCU Townsville Library. In the opinion of a number of my peers and myself, the subjected silent zone does not achieve the outcomes it was presumably put in place for. This opinion is based on a number of reasons: 1.) Absolute silence is not guaranteed due to the architectural design of the library building, i.e. the first floor, where people can and do talk actively, directly connects to the silent zone without presence of walls or the like. This results in a high-noise area being less than 2 meters below a "silent zone". 2.) The organisation of computer-desks consists of 4 or more standing in close proximity to one another. Students that study or write assignments for the same subjects, tend to aggregate and share their opinions/ findings to maximise outcomes. Books that can only be found in the library are often needed for such assignments. The fact that there are virtually no other options in the library where computer-fitted desks are placed as conveniently for completion of group assignments and alike, animates larger groups of students to congregate in the second floor of the library. 3.) Group presentation rooms are not fitted with sufficient computers and are often used by classes, which, understandably, take priority over study groups. Additionally, the construction of said presentation rooms tends to more increase than inhibit sound production, due to echoing. Two of these rooms are found in the "silent zone". In conclusion, we understand that the silent zone has been put in place due to students complaints about insufficient silent zones in the library, we simply do not understand nor support where it has been placed. Facts are, neither the architectural design of the building, nor the placement of group presentation rooms allows for a sufficient suppression of noise on the entire second floor. If said silent zone is to be kept in place, the only two options in our opinion to effectively create silence on the second floor are: 1 - to deem the entire library a "silent zone" as the building interconnects with copious amounts of open space where sound can travel freely, or; 2 - set up a silent zone somewhere other than the second floor, i.e. an area more secluded, with less open space and less computer organisation allowing group-work (e.g. the information commons area). 

Library Response:

Thank you for your feedback and suggestions. In 2012 the library undertook a university wide client survey in regard to products and services offered by the library. Two of the key survey findings relevant to this conversation are in regard to students wanting more silent spaces to undertake study in the library as well as more group study space. As a direct result of this survey some minor changes were made to the existing library layout. Floors were formally designated to particular types of use, some of the furniture was relocated to more appropriate space and the iLearning rooms on the ground floor were made available to students for group study when not in use for teaching.

To clarify: The ground floor is the collaboration floor – used for group work, fitted out with computers, additional power and wireless available for laptop use, along with group discussion tables and whiteboards. The first floor is for quiet study – also used for group work and individual study this space is fitted out with computers, wireless and power laptop use and a mix of group study tables and individual spaces. The second floor has been designated for silent and individual study. The desks are designed for individual use and protocol is that if you have to speak to your peers about study issues that these conversations are brief and in a whispered voice. If you are not already aware of the group spaces available on the ground floor if you ask a member of staff then they will be able show you these designated group spaces.

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