Students misuse library: PCs used for fun, not work

Students at Florida A&M University are expressing frustrations with the increasing number of fellow Rattlers occupying library computers for non-educational purposes.

According to an inventory conducted in 2007-2008, the University's Coleman Library houses 282 computers for student use. While many students use the resources to complete work for class and are trying to meet important deadlines, others simply use them for recreational activities such as Facebook or MySpace.


Yep, that's my (public) library is like too. Most of our students and adults use our computers for non school/work purposes too. Every once in a while, we have people complain, but as long as they're not breaking the rules (no chat, no games, no porn), we can't do anything (other than deny time extensions).

You get them here too on our college, but the "rule" (or understanding) is that they are students, they pay tuition, they can waste their time if they want to. By now, the other students pretty much learn to wait their turn. I am sure part of it is because, for the ones who may complain, they know they are just going to be on the computer to check FB too. Anyhow, this is news?

How is socializing on Facebook & My Space much different than socializing in the library in person? I used my college library as place for research and as a place to hang out and talk to friends and classmates.

I guess you could argue that students socializing via Facebook are taking up a computer that could be used for research, but why not just try and ensure everyone gets some access.

If you want to share your study space and resources with people that take their studying seriously might I suggest not going to Florida A&M.

people checking out books for recreational reading? The horror!

A student checking out a book for recreational reading is not preventing other students from borrowing books for research purposes. Unfortunately, short of segregating the computers into ones used for "schoolwork" vs. "everything else", there's no way to make sure the students doing research are able to do so.

Why someone comes to college nowadays without some kind of computer is beyond me. Even a $229.00 iPod Touch is capable of web browsing, e-mail and PDF viewing. So-called "netbooks" like the Asus Eee PC 4G Surf can be had for $400. Computer cost can no longer be an excuse.

It is apparently beyond you that someone would not have their own computer. I see this reaction all the time at MPOW. Cost is relative; what may be inexpensive for you just might be too expensive for someone else. Some of my coworkers (at a public library) express this same thought about computers being inexpensive, often when patrons complained about the wait time for a computer. What my coworkers (all wealthier than myself) don't understand is many people live on fixed incomes and have to save for months just to get a computer and often can't afford the monthly internet service fees.

Cost could be an issue, but it's not the only one I see. The college I went to had many non-traditional students who worked full-time and had families, and they used the campus library or computer labs for their quiet study area away from home and work. They may have a computer at home, but choose to use the college's computers instead. I lived on campus and in order to use the college's ISP, I had to void my warranty and allow the college tech support to install something inside my computer. I chose not to do that and simply used my computer for schoolwork only. I used the college computer labs and library for email, online research, etc.

Those are just examples of the top of my head. Not an extensive list my no means.

The article discusses students using Facebook and MySpace, not those on a fixed income. Those are two separate issues.

Did you even read the rest of my comment? As I said, money is not the only issue or, as you suggest, excuse.

First, to address your comeback: so no one on a fixed income uses Facebook or Myspace? No student could ever experience financial hardships that might prevent them from owning their own computer? How can you separate money out of the equation? Not all college students are trust-fund babies that have parents made of money. Not all of us could afford to go to an Ivy League school.

Second, to address the context of my comments: I do admit much of my experience comes from a public library perspective because that is my job. However, I do have experience on the academic side as well. I did go to college for 4 years and saw how many others, as well as myself, used the college's computers. Yes, lots of email, social networking, chat, and non-study things were going on. But was also just as much classwork going on; students writing many papers, using library catalogs and databases, and taking online classes or classes that maintained some coursework online, such as listservs and message boards. As I said in my previous comment, many used the library or computer labs to actually work away from distractions. Some, such as myself, used my own computer for schoolwork, and the other computers for email and the online content of my classes.

Oh, and my college is in a military town. Many soldiers were going to school and didn't have their own computer because it was one less hassle for them to have to put in storage/sell/take with them whenever they got called on active duty--which happened frequently. Yet another reason that doesn't involve money. Do you need more?

I work at a university library. I have spoken to students who earn extra money by selling plasma. They get just under $200 a month for their plasma and they work additional jobs and are avid about getting scholarships. I can't see them getting a computer when they are often going without meals at the end of the month. It is a small segment of the population but we have to be aware of all of the segments.

Well.. I'm not so sure about that. I think there are many that just barely scrap up the money for room, board, books and tuition. I think you may underestimate just how close to the edge many are.

$300 or even $400 may possibly be an extravagance for a computer that you can use at the library for free. However, it's been awhile since I was a college student and living on a really tight budget, so I could just be spitting into the wind here.

Free? Who pays for library computers and bandwidth? Nothing is free.

No, nothing is 'free'. The students pay specific fees to cover those costs. They pay the fees even if they have their own computer. They pay the fees even if they never use the college's computers. But is there a stipulation when they pay those fees that they can't access certain sites when using those computers? I don't think so. It's up to the library/computer lab to set policies and enforce them (or not).

Free in the sense that once you've paid tuition, etc..., there are no additional fees. Although I may be wrong about that.

When I was an undergrad, there were separate computer labs for homework and for socializing. Is that uncommon these days?

My university was the same way. For socializing, everyone went to the labs run by the IT/University Computing/Computer Science dept, and for research we used computers in the library. This was back in the early 90s. The buildings were nextdoor so it wasn't an inconvenience to choose the IT labs over the library.

The computers in our community college library are constantly used for purposes other than school work or research. This is fine and accepted. We have no time limits or restrictions on their surfing so long as it does not blatantly violate our acceptable use policy. Now, at times we do have people who are waiting to use a computer for school work and at those times we simply announce that those not doing college related work please excuse themselves. Usually at least 2-3 students will vacate within minutes.

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