Friday, January 23, 2009

We had a sort of running discussion in the library this week about a possible change in the computer use policy. Of course, this came up because we have limited resources. Sometimes (especially around lunch time and later into the afternoon) all of the student computers are in use. We have laptops to take up the slack but that isn't always enough.

Since the start of this quarter we have had one student who spends hours everyday playing games on a computer near the reference desk. I want to say right now that the reason I know he's playing games is because it would be almost impossible not to know, not because I was snooping! We don't restrict or police student computer use in any way so I didn't see this as a problem initially. But then one of the librarians mentioned that it might be necessary to ask him to stop playing during busy times when all of the computers are in use. I think that game playing is technically against the rules at our library (at least, it was) but, to my knowledge, we have never enforced this rule.

This started a lot of conversation. At one point, this issue was a scheduled topic of discussion for a meeting (never happened). The issue was resolved to the satisfaction of most (I believe) because the librarian who brought up the issue continued to discuss it and work it through. It really came down to a matter of equitable enforcement. This game player was very visible from the desk. Someone quietly playing a game on a laptop upstairs is, practically speaking, invisible to us, especially during the busy times when we need more computers. It wouldn't be fair to ask this one student to give up his computer while those a bit farther away could continue playing.

I don't mind saying, I'm happy with this decision.

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