FAQ: Can George Mason Ban Cell Phones in Libraries?

Posted: September 16, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

This frequently asked questions column appears in the Daily Gazette every Tuesday. All questions originate from the green comment boxes located throughout the university, or are items brought to the attention of the Quality of Work Life Committee. Answers are supplied by the appropriate academic unit, department, or office. One question is answered per week.

Q: Will you please ban cell phones from libraries and Johnson Center areas? The university should have quiet areas so students can study.

A: Our overall plan has been to provide library users with a range of quiet options.

In Fenwick Library, we have designated floors 2A, 3B, and 4B as Strictly Quiet Study Areas with no group studying, no conversations, and no cell phone use allowed. Floors 3C and 4C are designated General Quiet Study Areas with group study and conversation allowed so long as it is within reasonable limits. Cell phone use is prohibited in the Reference Area (1B). Library staff has been directed to respond to library user complaints and, as appropriate, enforce the library’s “on the spot” policy. Signs outlining the enforcement policy are being prepared for posting. In addition, general signs reminding students to maintain quietness and not use cell phones while in the library will be posted.

In the Johnson Center, the controlled area of the library is identified as Quiet Study with six large banners reading “Quiet Study Please, No Cell Phones.” The open stacks area–the second and third floors of the Johnson Center–typically is not monitored by library staff, but signs have been posted requesting that students not use cell phones in this space. In addition, two distinct spaces in the open stacks have been designated as Quiet Study Areas. Currently, signs for the open stacks are being revised with a “No Cell Phone” icon placed on them. The nature of the Johnson Center clearly presents challenges, but the designation of the two quiet study spaces will hopefully foster an environment conducive for study.

The Arlington and Prince William Campus libraries have similar policies. However, since both are much smaller physical units, it is possible for staff to monitor library user activities and, if necessary, intervene. –John Zenelis, university librarian, (703) 993-2491.

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