It’s a librarian’s worst nightmare that just walked by the reference desk in Case-Geyer: three students, eager to watch a film that their professor has set up for them in room 340, complete with hot pizzas. Here I sit, with my sensible shoes (at the insistence of my podiatrist), my glasses (courtesy of my father’s genetics), and old enough (fuddy-duddy enough?) to be the students’ parents (at least!). But, you got to do what you got to do, and in this case, I had to call a halt to the entire affair. In Case-Geyer, food is allowed only in the cafe, the flexible room, and the Batza meeting room, all on the 5th floor.
So why are librarians/libraries so insistent on a no-food policy? Have you ever seen what a tuna salad sandwich looks like when squished between the pages of a library book, or perhaps more importantly what the book looks like? I have, and it ain’t pretty. But almost anyone could mush a tuna sandwich on a book that they’ve taken out of the library (or could they?), so that’s not the entire reason. Have you ever sat down to work at table, only to find that it’s covered in crumbs (or worse)? Now it’s all over the books you put down (yours and/or ours), or your computer, or leather jacket, or …
I could list so many reasons, that you’d stop reading, so let’s cut to the chase: we don’t permit food in the building, except for selected rooms, to preserve the collection. Not just against stray tuna sandwiches (we know that most of you are neat eaters), but against insects and rodents. Library buildings and IT centers are full of materials that insects and rodents like to chew on: paper, glue in bindings, & wires. The best way to keep them out is to keep the easily consumed food out. Once they’ve finished up the crumbs left over from your dinner, they start on the books and wiring. It’s as simple as that.
So, “big deal”, you say? “Just replace the books”? We would if we could, but we usually can’t, and not because of the current economic climate. Many books go “out of print” in a very short period of time (goes back to a change in the tax code during the Reagan presidency – a long story). So, that critical book that everyone in POSC150 needs that’s been chewed to shreds isn’t available for purchase again, and, because it’s still under copyright protection, it’s not even available from Google Books. Besides, pests don’t discriminate between a text book and the Shakespeare First Folio.
So help us help you and the long line of Colgate students still to arrive. Keep your drink cups covered, and keep your food in the café, the flexible room, or room 560 (Batza). Do your part to preserve our collection for future generations. As we used to say “we thank you for your support”. See, I am old, and suddenly very hungry. Guess I’ll head to the cafe when my shift is over.