Library Etiquette

Libraries are based on the concept of sharing.  We all share books, space, resources, computers, and (hopefully) ideas.  In order to maintain Mina Rees’s collegiate atmosphere of resource and knowledge sharing, please keep in mind two simple rules of library etiquette.

1) Sharing books.

This guideline refers both to books you use and those you don’t use.

First, respect the page.  Marking up library books goes against the entire concept of shared use.  Notes, highlights, dog-eared pages, and post-its in shared books not only disrupt the readings of those who check out the book after you’re done, but also will damage the book over the long term.  So please, keep your insights to yourself.  If you must annotate, take advantage of all the free bookscanners and printing services we have.


Sample library book that was returned with markings on multiple pages.

Second,  respect the stacks.  Knowing where the book you want is great, isn’t it?  Wouldn’t you like for the next person who would like to see that book to have the same ease of use?  When perusing books in the stacks, simply place the books you do not wish to check out on the tables next to the workstations.  We pick them up for reshelving multiple times a day, so they will be back in the stacks in no time.  Haphazardly placing books in the stacks, or setting them on open shelves leads to missed books and frustration down the road.  Simply placing one small stack of books out of order can cost the library hours of time searching and possibly hundreds of dollars replacing what was presumed to be lost or stolen.




2) Sharing space.

One of the great things about Mina Rees is how quiet and peaceful it is despite being on one of the busiest corners in Manhattan.  Especially the dissertation reading room and the entire second floor are great spaces for quiet work.  Let’s all keep it that way.  When you receive a cellphone call, please leave the library entirely.  Voices carry despite lowering your head below the desk, hiding in the stacks, or standing next to the corner (all strategies witnessed regularly by library employees).  Similarly, please keep conversations to a minimum in these quiet areas.

Another important way to respect the shared space of the library is to refrain from disruptive activities, like having a five-course meal at your laptop.  For tips on how to address eating in public space, please see the following GIF.  There is a lounge on the first floor outside the library with space for consuming meals and group study.

Just by keeping in mind that the books and spaces you enjoy at the library are shared with other students, faculty, and staff, we can all help maintain a friendly and productive atmosphere of scholarship.


 Annie Dell’Aria works with the Circulation department at the Graduate Center library, is an Adjunct lecturer at Queensborough Community College, and a doctoral candidate in Art History.

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