Music at the library

To whom it may concern, I find that it shows a remarkable lack of foresight to schedule singing in a university library at any point in time.

From: an undergraduate student

Dennis T. Clark, Associate University Librarian for Public Services, replies…

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your need to use library spaces for quiet study — it is one of our most important offerings. However, as part of our weeks-long exhibit, we wanted to incorporate a live-performance, and tie it into Valentine’s Day. Our fabulous musicians from the School of the Arts, Gianna Barone and Denver Walker, gave wonderful performances. In order to keep any distractions at a minimum, we placed the performance in our lobby (our version of Grand Central Station) and scheduled during a lunch hour, when we have the most traffic. We often use that same space for visual and interactive art exhibits, so it seemed like the perfect place for the performing arts.

You’ll be happy to know that we don’t often have live music in the library — this may be a first. I’m very glad that you are an active library user and encourage your comments on other library events in the future.

Need for quiet study space at Cabell Library

For the love of god, please give students like myself a QUIET place to study! It is beyond frustrating that our tuition is continually hiked, but the heart of our University (or any university)-our library-is way underfunded and lacking space. Yes, I realize it’s “next on the list” after the new classroom building has reached significant progress. But when will that be?? This is an ongoing problem that’s been around since I transferred to VCU over three years ago. This is nothing new. What’s the point of building more classrooms if there’s no place to study what we learn in the classroom, in peace and quiet? I’m well aware that there’s a “silent” fourth floor. But when you’re sitting down for an extended period of time up there, it’s not all that silent. Phones go off, people whisper loudly, and sometimes they’ll just talk outright. The fourth floor is now what the third floor used to be. Not to mention, on any given day it’s mostly full. Most students, such as myself, do not live alone and cannot have real peace and quiet at home. This is unfair to those of us who spend just as much time studying as we do in the classroom (if not way more), and we’re tired of hearing excuses from the administration. Furthermore, it’s infuriating that when VCU did spend our tuition dollars on the library, they built the noisiest second floor in library history. Getting work done there is fruitless; it has become a hub for bombastic socializing, and it is essentially now just an extension of the Commons. Even better, VCU put the money into installing shiny new sliding doors in the entrances. I’ve been here for awhile so I know that at any given time one of the old doors was broken, but on either side there were still three or four more doors. Our fancy new sliding doors went out of order at the beginning of the semester and an entire half of the library entrance was blocked off! Ridiculous. I’m graduating in December, and I love the people of this school with all my heart. But it’s infuriating that a school with such academic potential as VCU cares so little about the sacred and central place to all universities: the library.

From: an undergraduate student

Dennis T. Clark, Associate University Librarian for Public Services, replies…

Thank you for taking the time to give your feedback on the important issue of quiet study space in the Cabell library. First, we appreciate your concern about the relative lack of quiet study. As you note, we have attempted to “tier” the library floors from least quiet (1st) to silent (4th). Invariably, noise — electronic and otherwise — creeps onto even the silent floor. We do take your concern seriously and will be increasing our security patrol of the 4th floor in order to deter inappropriate noise.

Likewise, I appreciate your concern about the 2nd floor socializing. That floor is intentionally collaborative (and therefore noisy) because VCU students need places for group work, and we worked hard to meet those needs. Although it may seem like overt socializing, we know from experience that floor is heavily used for academic work. In short, we are extremely sympathetic.

Regarding the doors: We are well aware that the doors have had some rough spots in their first few weeks of operation. We use them ourselves! It’s frustrating, though not unexpected with a new installation. We’ll keep working to reduce incidents such as the one you describe. We do hear from many students and faculty how much they appreciate the change from the previous entryway doors.

Interestingly, we had library visitors from another Virginia university a few weeks ago. Those folks commented on how every inch of space was in use, due to the high volume of visits in ration to the extremely limited amount of library space per student. This challenge will continue until funds are appropriated to construct another library building. Until then, please know that we work daily in trying to preserve a reasonable balance between quiet and noisy library work. And again, thank you for your thoughts.

Library Computer speed

Is it just me or are the computers at TML incredibly buggy and slow? I’m
not sure if this is a software issue related to the new Windows or an
update issue or what. I am having constant difficulty with both IE and
Firefox running incredibly slowly, frequently freezing up, not accessing
certain sites correctly, etc. I just restarted the computer I was using,
and it said it was installing 7 updates. Then I continued to have the
same problems as before. I have noticed this on several different
machines. Any information on whether this is a Windows issue, a network
issue, a hardware issue, or what?

From: a staff member

Jimmy Ghaphery, Head of Library Information Systems, replies…

Thank you for the suggestion. We strive to provide technology that makes a positive difference for our users and thus regret the problems you experienced. We have taken a closer look at our current public computers and have not been able to duplicate these problems. The one point in your message about pending Windows updates is especially interesting, and we will investigate how we might better schedule these. In the future please report problems to a service desk and note the applications you were accessing so we can do more troubleshooting.

Noise in the Cabell Library book stacks

Some book re-shelvers have no consideration of how much noise they make. I understand it’s hard to move around books without making any noise, but there’s a huge difference between slamming the books around and placing them gently. Some of us are here to study and the noise makes a huge difference for us. Everyone, whether they work here or are studying here, needs to be more conscientious about themselves.

From: a graduate student

Patricia Selinger, Head of Preservation, replies…

It’s true that reshelving can sometimes be a noisy task. We have a number of students working in the stacks and many of them are new to VCU this semester. We will be sure to communicate that care must be taken to handle books correctly and be conscientious of those studying. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Request for SPSS software on library computers

There is a huge need to install SPSS software in the ONLY FOUR computers in Graduate study room 4th floor. Thanks

From: a graduate student

Jimmy Ghaphery, Head of Library Information Systems, replies…

Thank you for the suggestion regarding SPSS.

We are working to have SPSS available on all of the library computers in partnership with Technology Services. This Fall we have successfully deployed SAS, Mathematica, and JMP to all of the library computers as virtual applications. The current issue with SPSS revolves around licensing, which is preventing us from deploying SPSS as a virtual application. SPSS is available for download onto individual machines.

Safety concerns on a rainy day

Umbrella wet bags at the entrance would be very beneficial and will prevent the floor from being very slippery.

From: an undergraduate student

Jeanne Hammer, Assistant University Librarian for Administration and Policy Development replies…

Thank you for the suggestion about umbrella wet bags. We will order two holders – one for each exterior door – and a supply of the bags. Although our operating budget for supplies and such is quite limited, VCU’s office supply contract does offer a deep discount on the retail price. The bags will be available as soon as possible, especially on rainy days.

Noise on the 4th floor of Cabell Library

I am taking classes this summer. I am in the library on the 4th floor almost every day. Without fail, staff is continuously coming out of the offices and being very disrespectful of the 4th floor policy of no talking. They continue to have loud group discussions around the elevators. I have also noticed that it is also contractors. Now I want nothing more than for our library to get better and provide better facilities for students, but it is unacceptable for staff and faculty to disrupt students studying and working towards their future goals. It is very distracting and uncalled for.

From: an undergraduate student

Dennis Clark, Associate University Librarian for Public Services, replies…

Thank you for taking the time to send your comment to the Libraries’ Suggestion Blog. You’re right to remind library staff that we sometimes forget the study space guidelines that govern the use of the fourth floor at Cabell Library. Please know that I will share your comments with the staff who work here. If you encounter this problem in the future, please alert library staff at the nearest service desk for assistance. If you do not receive excellent service, don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

We understand that quiet study space is at a premium, and your library experience is important to us. I appreciate your blog post and hope you will continue to send your comments and suggestions.

Electronic Access to Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology is book series by Springer and this is series very useful for researches. Its my kind request to make some arrangement so that VCU people can download the full text.

From: a staff member

Lynne Turman, Head of Tompkins-McCaw Library Collections, replies…

Thank you for the suggestion. According to the publisher, the online version of this book series is not available to purchase individually. It is part of a larger package of e-books from Springer. VCU Libraries is interested in obtaining the Springer collection but the cost is over $200,000 for one imprint year. We will continue to try and negotiate more favorable pricing. Thank you again for taking the time to contact us with your comment.

Suggested change to the library search box

Hi Dear Library Official, You all do a great job running the place. I have a suggestion, which is very simple. I access the library’s web page by typing in . On the home page, you have an immediate (and convenient) search field for the catalog, which only contains two criteria for narrowing one’s search: “words anywhere” and “title begins with. . .” Why not include the very common-sense option of ‘Author’s name’? Obviously, you could enter the author and select “words anywhere,” but this preferentially seems to generate books about the author or anthologies, more than works by the author. I just ran a search for “Foote, Shelby,” and he wasn’t hit upon as the author until the thirteenth entry; that’s not so bad, but there’s no reason to have to sort through biographical and critical literature when one only wants to see the primary documents. Cheers, Thanks for reading.

From: an undergraduate student

Jimmy Ghaphery, Head of Library Information Systems, replies…

Thank you for taking the time to write us about the library search box. We continue to make changes, but seek to balance how many features to include without making it overwhelming. In addition to author, there are a number of other searches that are only available by going directly to

In the near future we expect to bring even better library search tools to the VCU Community. In particular we are looking at a single search box that brings back results sorted by relevance and grouped in facets. In this type of environment it should be easier to hone in on works by an author much more quickly, and still get the benefits of seeing the other biographical and critical sources. Thanks again.

Use of laptops at desktop computer workstations

I am a student that utilizes the library a lot, and I have noticed more and more on the 2nd floor, that the desks with computers on them have been taken over by people WITH computers….they sit there on their personal computers while the school one is unused…this is ridiculous. I do not bring my personal computer with me to the library, and often use the ones provided. I have had to search all over for computers when people take up desks with their own. Please do something with this. I know I am not the only student who is frustrated at this situation!!!

From: a graduate student

I would like to raise a personal concern regarding the use of lap-tops in front of unused computer terminals. Today, I was in the learning commons and saw that nearly a dozen of the computer terminals were not free for use as students were using the power outlets at these terminals to plug in their lap-tops. I wish that the library would please do something to address this problem. Not all of us have a laptop and the students that are doing this are either unaware of how selfish their behaviour is, or they don’t care. Please take my concern under consideration so that in the future more students are not deprived of the use of the facilities for which we pay so much for. Thank you for your time.

From: an undergraduate student

I see a lot of people sitting by a desk that has a desktop, but they are using their laptops. is it possible to put some type of sign that says that is not allowed. Thank You

from: a library patron

Mary Ellen Spencer, Head of Research and Instructional Services, replies…

First, thanks to everyone who sent in these comments about the use of laptops and space in the new Learning Commons. Please know that VCU students, faculty, and staff engaging in academic work have priority use of the computing resources at the library. As students, you should feel free to ask a person sitting at a computer workstation and not using it if they will relocate so that you can use the computer. Both library staff and security guards are available to assist you in getting access to a workstation.

As I’m sure you know, space is at a premium in Cabell Library, and we simply don’t have enough to meet everyone’s needs. That said, the information you’ve provided is helpful to us as we plan how best to use the space we do have. Please keep sending your comments and suggestions. Thanks again for taking the time to post to our blog.