Wanted: Library Womble

I promised you in my last post that I was due a rant about this so here goes! First I have prepared for you a slideshow of evidence.* Feast your eyes on this:

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WHEN DID THIS BECOME OKAY?!?! When did people start to think this was acceptable behaviour?! It’s RUBBISH, it goes in a BIN!

Generally I quite like our students, they’re fairly pleasant if annoyingly loud on occasion. But this behaviour drives me absolutely batty. It’s just so incredibly ignorant. The photos are the tip of the iceberg really, I’ve had much worse. Half eaten paninis stuffed behind computers or left on radiators. 20 half empty cans of Red Bull. Orange peel all over the floor. And on one memorable occasion I found half a pint of milk and a half empty bag of grated cheese in a seminar room, in which the occupants had had the wall mounted heater on full blast…

It’s the sheer ignorance of it that gets to me, the complete rudeness. The oblivious assumption that someone else is going to pick it all up. They are at most 10 metres away from a bin, wherever they are sat, but it might as well be 100 metres for all they use them. In fact, we could probably have an individual bin at each desk and they still wouldn’t bother.

Now ok, we’re not making things easy on ourselves by allowing them to bring food into the LRC but in general, the issue of food in libraries does not bother me, certainly not in our library. We don’t have a research collection, our books are easily replaceable and most are loanable, so are going to be used while students are eating at home anyway. So I don’t really care if they bring food in, I just really, really wish they’d throw their rubbish away after them!

We’ve tried; if we see people walking away from rubbish laden tables we ask them to clear it up. We have some fearsome cleaners who identify frequent offenders and embarrass them into better behaviour. But it doesn’t make a huge difference as we usually only find it after they’ve left.

I’ve suggested having a week where we don’t clear tables, just to show them what sort of pig sty they make for themselves, but of course we can’t do that because of the “student experience.” Most people seem resigned to the problem, maybe I’ll end up that way too, but for the moment it still sends me into a blinding rage whenever I walk around the LRC. And because it’s Friday, I thought I would share the rage with you, dear Reader. I hope you feel my pain.

Any suggestions for teaching ADULTS to use BINS gratefully received in comments. If you don’t have a suggestion, at least tell me I’m not alone in my anger?


*taking photos of rubbish; that didn’t make me look weird AT ALL!

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9 thoughts on “Wanted: Library Womble

  1. Post photos. Put up posters with the pics you’ve taken and great big angry capital letters saying “THIS IS NOT A RUBBISH TIP – USE THE BINS” or similar. Maybe with a stern warning that if things don’t improve, food will no longer be allowed?
    Honestly I don’t think anything will work. People litter these days. It is completely disgusting, but there you go. Apparently they just don’t think, or don’t care, about whoever has to clean it up. It’s so ingrained, you don’t have much chance of changing that carelessness.

  2. The answer is probably something to do with manners / appealing to their better natures / bribery but I can’t think of any sensible way of translating that into real life. Otherwise, passive-aggressive signange ftw!

  3. It’s like that here too, especially during 24/7 opening. Weirdest thing we’ve found is a bag full of leeks, apparently a month past their sell by date. EUW.

  4. This astounds me too. When people reach adulthood – and quite a lot earlier – I can’t understand why they would consider not putting rubbish in the bin. The worst aspect for me is when they don’t just leave litter around, they actively put it somewhere that isn’t a bin. For example, I often find pieces of rubbish carefully placed in the university prospectus holders or tucked behind books on the shelf. Sadly I don’t have any solutions to offer.

  5. All I can do is agree with the above, and add that, even in the hallowed halls of Trinity (aka Hogwarts-on-the-Cam) we had chips, kebabs, rotten fruit, half-drunk bottles of pop and suchlike left behind on a regular basis (no food or drink was allowed in the building, but still it got in somehow). People even used to leave rubbish in my bicycle basket – ick.

  6. Rubbish left in our overnight book box is my bugbear. Used tissues, lottery cards (I’m glad you didn’t win) and used plasters (*Vom* And its a hospital library by the way…) are the norm. Makes me so angry. Its SO clear that it is NOT a bin!

  7. It seems from the other comments that the issue of discarded rubbish is a common problem. The thing that really worries me is that we are moving to a new campus later this year where the LRC will have lots of lovely new (and probably expensive) furniture. I just wonder how many shiny new rubblish bins are being purchased?

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