The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (2023)

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The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (1)

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These days, libraries are much more than havens for bibliophiles and scholars.

From community events to technology classes, you can now do more than ever at your local library — but you should still be mindful of some important etiquette.

Here are a few things you should never do in a library, according to people who have actually worked there.

Libraries are generally kid-friendly zones, but leaving young children unattended is considered inappropriate.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (2)

Getty/ Ronnie Kaufman

Author and former Brooklyn Public Library artist-in-residence Christine Sloan Stoddard told Insider that the library staff doesn't appreciate when guardians allow their kids to run amok through the shelves.

"Librarians and other staff are not babysitters. If left to play and wander, little ones may disturb other patrons and cause damage to library property," said Stoddard.

In general, kids should always be supervised in a library, even when they're hanging out in sections that are designed for them.

You should avoid visiting the library when you're sick.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (3)


Shannon Serpette, former library clerk and board member at the Henry Public Library in Illinois, told Insider that a sniffling and sneezing patron is a librarian's worst nightmare.

"One thing I really hated to see was people walking into the library who were super sick. Yes, I know it's nice to have something to read when you're feeling ill — but if you have a fever and you're shivering and coughing, please do everyone a favor and stay at home," said Serpette.

By wandering around the library and handling library materials while sick, you're potentially spreading your illness to other patrons and library staff. There's also the possibility that your coughing and sneezing might be disruptive to other readers.

Save yourself the trouble of a trip to the library and download an e-book or audiobook from your library's online catalog instead.

Don't randomly re-shelve books, even if you're trying to be helpful.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (4)

Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty

Even though it seems polite to place books on shelves instead of leaving them lying around, you could be causing a headache for staff members.

"You might think you're being helpful by returning your book to the shelf, but it's only helpful if you actually put it back where it belongs," said Stoddard.

Stoddard explained that libraries rely on a precise cataloging system to allow patrons and staff to locate a single book out of the thousands on the shelves, so if a book is improperly placed, it can be nearly impossible to find it again.

If you aren't completely certain you're returning a book to its correct home, simply place it on a dedicated re-shelving cart, pass it to a library staff member, or just leave it on a library table.

The staff is there to help you, but that obligation begins and ends with the times posted on the library door.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (5)


Just as you wouldn't appreciate being forced to extend your workday for the sake of one customer, don't expect library staff to work around your schedule.

"People sometimes enter the library a minute before closing and act like it's okay to spend 20 minutes looking at books on the shelves, or knock on the door before the library is scheduled to open," said Serpette.

Don't use the library computers to browse inappropriate sites.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (6)


When using library computers or a library WiFi connection, you'll want to keep your internet browsing rated G and avoid NSFW websites.

"A huge no-no is using the library computers to look up inappropriate adult websites. That should go without saying, but there are patrons at the library who actually do this. It's horribly uncomfortable for the staff," Serpette said.

You may also avoid browsing sites that prominently feature violence or explicit language since it's easy to forget to close a tab and inadvertently expose a younger or more sensitive patron to explicit material.

It's not appropriate to take care of personal grooming at the library.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (7)


Stoddard told Insider that it's not appropriate to groom yourself at the library — and even if they don't say anything, fellow patrons and staff members notice.

"Do not clip your fingernails at library desks and tables, and do not apply makeup. Unless it's a quick swipe of lip balm, you may get whatever you're applying on a book, electronic, the table, or the floor," she said.

You should also avoid using toothpicks or brushing your hair in the library, as these activities may leave food or strands on books, floors, keyboards, or other surfaces.

Don't stick around library events just to indulge in the free food.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (8)

Shalom Ormsby Images Inc/Getty

There's nothing wrong with grabbing a few snacks during catered library events like art receptions and author readings, but it's considered poor form to take so much food that there is none left for anyone else.

That said, if you are a patron who is experiencing food insecurity, Stoddard said you may want to just speak to library staff, who are often willing to share extra food with you.

"If you're just in it for the food because you're truly hungry, stick around until the very end of the reception and there may be leftovers. Staff will often invite patrons to take leftovers with them because they don't want to waste food," she told Insider. "If they don't, just ask politely and discreetly if you can take food with you."

Don't allow your phone to beep or vibrate loudly — put it on silent.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (9)

Getty/Hero Images

Taking a phone call in the middle of the reading room is frowned upon, but you shouldalso be aware that the intermittent chirps of incoming text messages can be just as obnoxious as a loud conversation or ring tone — so switching your cell phone to silent is a must.

In addition, ensure that any vibrations coming from your phone are felt and not heard by stashing it inside of a bag or on top of your coat, not on a hard surface.

Avoid monopolizing the time of library staff with your tech-related questions.

The 9 things you should never do in a library, according to former employees (10)


Serpette said that even though most library staff members are happy to answer basic questions about computers, they usually don't have time to provide in-depth tutorials.

"As much as I loved to help people who were technologically-challenged, people shouldn't expect a one-on-one computer-troubleshooting session from their library clerk either," Serpette told Insider.

If you need additional help, consider asking your library if they offer dedicated technology info sessions or workshops for its patrons.

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Features never do Freelancer



What is it you must never do in the library? ›

You should not make unnecessary noises, disturb other library users, damage library materials, or make unnecessary noises. Similar to the previous, we should plan ahead, follow library signs and ask for help when using computers. We should also avoid writing in library books.

What are the dos and don ts in the library? ›

Do's and Don'ts
Always ask for what you wantDon't write anything in library books.
Respect Library Rules and RegulationsDon't keep the books in racks after reading
Use bins
Use book markersDo not discuss inside library
12 more rows

What are 5 rules of a library? ›

Readers should not mark, underline, dog-ear, write, tear pages or otherwise damage the library documents. Newspapers, magazines and journals must be read only in the library on specific tables and should not be taken to any other reading areas. No library material can be taken out of the library without permission.

What are the three rules of the library? ›

General Library Rules
  • A person desirous of using the Library shall enter his/her name, address and time of entry legibly and sign in the register kept at the entrance for the purpose.
  • Strict decorum and discipline must be maintained in the Library. ...
  • Use of cell phones is not allowed.

What is library etiquette? ›

Respect your fellow students and library staff. Code of Student of Student Conduct. No offensive, abusive, boisterous, harassing, or noisy actions or language. Follow directions and be respectful when speaking with Library staff.

What are library rules? ›

General Lending Rules

Members must produce their valid library membership card when borrowing the books. Members must check to see that all library materials in their possession have been properly checked out to them before leaving the library. 2. Members are held responsible for all materials charged to their cards.

Is it okay to leave stuff in library? ›

We strongly recommend that you do not leave your belongings, of any kind, unattended in the library, even in the group study rooms. Thefts do occur and the library is not responsible for the safety and security of your property.

Can I just hang out in a library? ›

A public library is usually just that- open to the public. If you want to take items out, you will need a library card, for which you will likely qualify. But you should be able to read, research, and enjoy other amenities during open hours. Public libraries are public.

Are you allowed to talk in a library? ›

In public libraries, it is a matter of good manners and respect to acknowledge that others are reading or studying or simply enjoying the quiet. A library has long been noted as a refuge from the chaos of everyday life. “Talking” is not “prohibited.” There is no law or penalty.

What are the 7 section of the library? ›

Sections of Library
  • Acquisition Section: Acquisition section is responsible for the selection and purchase of materials or resources. ...
  • Technical Section: ...
  • Circulation Section: ...
  • Reference Section: ...
  • Periodical Section: ...
  • Bound Volume Section: ...
  • Reprographic section: ...
  • Computer Section:

What are the four pillars of a library? ›

  • Spirit of Service to Users (Reader) The first pillar of creating a comfortable library is the most important vision of the library. ...
  • Science and Research Resources. The second pillar is providing scientific and research resources. ...
  • Library Environment and Excellent Service. ...
  • Human Resources Support and Technology Devices.
Dec 13, 2018

What are four key functions of a library? ›

In addition to providing materials, libraries also provide the services of librarians who are trained and experts at finding, selecting, circulating and organizing information and at interpreting information needs, navigating and analyzing very large amounts of information with a variety of resources.

What is serial control in library? ›

Serial control is the important function in Library and Information Centre by which obtaining, controlling and retaining the periodicals, which occupies major part of Information Sources in Libraries today.

Why eating is not allowed in library? ›

Frequently Asked Questions: Question: Why is eating not allowed in the library? Answer: Food attracts mice, rats, cockroaches, ants, silverfish, and other insects. These unwanted guests not only destroy library materials, they can pose a health hazard to library users and staff.

What things about libraries don t you like? ›

Read on ...
  • The Stress. Keeping track of anything in a house with three young kids is an impossible feat. ...
  • The Late or Replacement Fees. See above.
  • The Grossness. ...
  • Keeping Kids Quiet. ...
  • Keeping Kids Still. ...
  • The Books My Kids Chose. ...
  • The Smell. ...
  • The Scowling Librarian.
Oct 10, 2011

Is it rude to sleep in library? ›

It is true that some libraries have different policies regarding sleeping in the library – and while many a librarian will allow a tuckered out patron to nap, should this nap exceed five hours most librarians will feel a responsibility to accidentally make a loud noise by the person dozing so as to ensure that they are ...

What you should do in the library? ›

Activities at libraries
  • Browse the shelves for books or media. ...
  • Borrow print books. ...
  • Research topics that interest them. ...
  • Get help from a librarian. ...
  • Sit, read, and study, or watch or listen to media. ...
  • Use a research database. ...
  • Attend or bring a younger person to a class, program, or event designed for children or teens.
Jan 22, 2013


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