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Subject: Food and drink in the library

Food and drink in the library

From: Claudia Stall <cstall>
Date: Wednesday, May 25, 1994
Food and drink policies.

Twenty or more years ago, this Library had no policy banning food being
consumed in the building.  There were even food dispensing machines on
each floor.  No beverages were "allowed" but it was a hit and miss deal.

In a few years, large cafeteria trays piled high with dishes, coffee
cups, bags of chips, flatware, etc.  were routinely taken into the
building and the mess left behind.  Even though some used the trash
containers, pizza boxes, hamburger bags and malt containers overflowed
onto the floor.  Of course, there were library books, tables, chairs and
carpets stained with food and beverage.

The front doors were posted with "no food and beverage" signs, the food
vending machines removed, and obvious violators were watched for.  When
confronted, most patrons said that they did not see the signs and did
not realize it was a problem.

This policy reduced the blatant violators but evenings and weekends
continued to be a problem.  At this point, student workers were hired to
do patrols.  Dubbed the "cookie cops" and "cookie patrol" they were only
partially effective.  Students telling other students not to eat/drink
in the Library was difficult.  They were subjected to verbal abuse and
defiance.  We finally were unable to find students who would stay on the
job for any length of time.

Next, we hired a uniformed patrol officer.  In addition to his other
duties, he was to warn patrons not to eat/drink in the building.  He was
assigned to sit at the entrance a certain number of minutes each hour to
turn back obvious violators.  This is a rather expensive option,
building security being his main mission and the food/drink policy
enforcement only a small part.

At each level of patrol, we reduced the amount of violation, each with a
higher financial cost.

>From the beginning, employees were reminded that the security patrol
cannot be everywhere at once and if violators are spotted in the normal
course of their duties, they were to ask patrons to leave.  From the
beginning, this policy has been a failure.  Very few want to talk to
patrons and are only willing, at most, to call and report violators to
the Circulation desk.  This is still a problem despite repeated memos
from the Library Director.

Also, employees feel that they should be able to bring in food and
beverages to be consumed at their work locations and not be stopped by
the patrol. All food/drink is to be concealed while being transported
through the public areas.  Employees who refuse to follow the policy
continue to be a problem.

In addition to patrols, informational displays were set up in the lobby
area.  Cases displaying the type of damage caused by food and beverages
were set up.  Several types of posters were used to remind patrons not
to eat or drink in the building.  The displays were well done and caused
much comment while they were up.  As soon as the displays went down the
problems started to escalate.

Despite limited success, the Library remains determined to try to keep
eating and drinking a low levels.  Suggestions as to how to accomplish
this are still being tried.  As the head of the Collection Preservation
Unit, I recently purchased posters and postcards to add to our supply of
posters used previously.  I want to prepare a large display reminding
patrons of the policy just before fall classes begin at the end of

I am on the lookout for additional ideas and products that I can try.
One creative person suggested that we purchase a large bag of plastic
roaches and when a patron is seen in violation of the policy, a roach be
deposited in front of them.

San Diego State University has a student population of about 30,000.
There is only one main library with one main entrance, 5 floors.  Thanks
in advance for your suggestions.

Ms. Claudia M. Stall, Head
Collection Preservation/Mendery

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:86
                   Distributed: Sunday, May 29, 1994
                        Message Id: cdl-7-86-007
Received on Wednesday, 25 May, 1994

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