Would that we all had such problems with our reading rooms.
in 1998 the library moved to a modern red-brick building on Euston Road, and four years ago it liberalized its admission policy. It opened its new reading rooms not only to writers and academics who depend on material from its singular collection, but also to “anyone who has a relevant research need,” a spokeswoman said.
Which is all fine. But “anyone” includes college undergraduates, and the problem with them, at least in the eyes of the older researchers, is that they tend to behave like the teenagers that many of them are.
Researchers have been grousing about the boisterous atmosphere and crowded conditions at the British Library for years. But the dispute — a philosophical battle, really, over who should be allowed access to a great national library — spilled out in public last week when The Times of London published an article quoting various distinguished figures complaining about the out-of-control mood over spring break.
New York Times - Shh! In British Library Reading Rooms, Flirting and Even Giggling - April 28, 2008
Although there are 1,480 seats in the library, the author Christopher Hawtree was last week forced to perch on a windowsill while the historians Lady Antonia Fraser and Claire Tomalin have swapped horror stories of interminable queues. Library users complain that the line to enter the new building in St Pancras, central London, has recently been extending across its enormous courtyard.
Speaking to The Times yesterday, Lady Antonia said: “I had to queue for 20 minutes to get in, in freezing weather. Then I queued to leave my coat for 20 minutes [at the compulsory check-in]. Then half an hour to get my books and another 15 minutes to get my coat. I’m told it’s due to students having access now. Why can’t they go to their university libraries?”
Of particular irritation is the notion that many undergraduates now come to the library to relax, meet and text friends, and play on laptops, rather than to read books. “It’s become a social gathering,” Lady Antonia said.
The Times - Frustration for authors as students hog British Library reading rooms - April 21, 2008