Town vs. Gown: How to Accommodate Competing Groups in an Academic Library
As every academic librarian knows, there is often push and pull between students and members of the public. How do we balance those concerns? And within our institutions who can we turn to for help balancing the rights of public patrons with the security of our students? What are some ways to ensure student safety and comfort without doing a disservice to our public patrons? / We are the defacto law library for the state, and part of our mission is to actively serve the citizens of the state, as well as the state Bar. This means there is an expectation of public patrons in the library, doing legal research, which can often lead to conflict with students. As a professional library the students are encouraged to see it as such and take ownership of the space, which can also lead to tension with the public. / I’ll examine obligations to both public patrons and students, and how, with the help of campus partners, solutions can be reached. Using a real-world problem the library faced as a case study, I’ll discuss, in-depth, different ways the library worked to find solutions. These solutions include working with other library departments, understanding student and public expectations, looking at changing policies to suit the needs of the library and to support students and the public, promoting cross-campus services, working closely with Student Services Departments, and, finally, when banning a patron is the last option.