December 5th, 2011
VCU Senior Laura Veit (left) said she didn’t know of the new library smoking policy. The library has signs that state the new policy printed on the entrance doors. Photo by Amber-Lynn Taber.
A recent increase in complaints from students and visitors at James Branch Cabell Library has prompted the building to implement a new smoking policy that says smoking is prohibited 50 feet in front of the building’s main entrances.
Jeanne Hammer, associate librarian for administration and policy development at Cabell Library, said staff became particularly aware of complaints from disabled visitors, staff and students.
“These users had to navigate through groups of smokers, often causing those users respiratory distress,” Hammer said in an email. “Some disabled users are particular vulnerable to smoke, and some have compromised respiratory function related to their disability.”
There is a “no smoking” sign near the external book return, but Hammer said this sign was not enough.
“Smokers tended to ignore or not see the no smoking’ sign there, and the sign was ambiguous about exactly how far away smokers should stay from the book return,” Hammer said.
As a result, smoke was still filtering through the book return, and the circulation desk staff had to deal with the smell of cigarette smoke throughout their work hours.
The library staff consulted VCU Facilities, VCU Human Resources and the Offices of Provost about what they should do. There was also discussion with the Cabell Library Student Advisory Committee, VCU Library Advisory Committee, The Humanities and Sciences Library Committee and the VCUarts Library committee.
Hammer said all groups unanimously advocated for a change of policy that placed a ban on smoking within 50 feet of the entrances to Cabell library.
In order to cater to smokers, VCU installed benches on the walkway towards the Student Commons.
Some students, like Kathryn Sutton think while this new policy helps the library, it could pose problems for other university buildings in the future.
“I think 50 feet would be counterproductive,” Sutton said. “That actually seems like it would be right in front of Shafer, or the Student Commons or Hibbs.”
Hammer said currently there are no other considerations to change other building policies at the Cabell Library.
December 5th, 2011
Students will now be able to satisfy late-night caffeine cravings in the James Branch Cabell Library.
During the last few weeks of each semester, Cabell Library hosts a program called Library Lite All Nite, in which students have access to the library 24 hours a day, Sunday through Thursday. Although students have utilized the late-night hours, popular coffee chain Starbucks has never been a participant in the program until this semester.
VCU libraries approached the company about extending hours of operation during exam weeks along with the Library Lite All Nite program. When Starbucks was provided with information regarding how many students populated the library over night, they agreed that participating in the program would benefit both parties.
“Not only is (having Starbucks open all night) a convenience, it also provides security enhancement for students,” Teresa Doherty, Head of Circulation and Information Services and Access Librarian, said. “If students wanted to get coffee or food not found in a vending machine, they would have to walk to sketchy areas late at night. Now they don’t event have to leave the building.”
Zuhra Abbaman, a student library assistant, says she has heard nothing but positive feedback about the new hours.
“Students love it. They’re obsessed. Having Starbucks open all night works out really well for students. If they’re going to be up all night studying, they’re going to need coffee to stay up,” Abbaman said.
Andy Tran, a junior English major, said he wouldn’t mind seeing the extended hours year round.
“Education is important. We’re paying a lot of money to VCU, so in my opinion, Starbucks and the library should always be open,” said Tran. “What if you have an annoying roommate? It’s not like they can just go home. Students should have places like the fourth floor of the library open at all times to study.”
According to Doherty, the library stays open during hours when students are most likely to use it, which they determine from monitoring library population.
This semester, the Cabell library, as well as Starbucks will be open from 11 a.m. Sunday morning, until 6 p.m. Friday night, until May 14.