How could I spill coffee on any library stuff? L: Another student could easily sit down here and start working next to you. Or someone passing could Just knock your cup over onto themselves. Accidents do happen. S: But I’m being careful. I’ll set it over here, see? And keep to myself– and not use any “library materials”, K? L: Look, many people here are using our books and other materials. We cannot monitor each person’s activity all the time they’re here. That’s why we Just don’t permit drinks in the library. I’m afraid that you’ll Just have to take it outside.
S: But look– it’s got a screw cap on it. With Just this little drinking slot– and the slot has a cover, too, see? I couldn’t possibly spill this if I tried. Watch this! — (The student knocks over the coffee container. ) L: OH! Oh, for heaven’s– Don’t do that again! Look. I don’t have time to discuss this with you any further. You’ll have to take your coffee outside, or you’ll have to dispose of it immediately– or you’ll have to leave the library. Is that clear’s (raising his voice): O K So, I guess we live in a police state on this campus, eh Geek!
And I thought universities were supposed to be bastions of liberalism! Guess not!!… L: Please keep your voice down. Others are trying to study. Young man, you’re confusing liberalism with licentiousness. This is a simple rule. It is not onerous or inhumane. It’s Just a practical regulation to make sure that the library collections– and many of our volumes are unique and irreplaceable– to make sure that they are kept safely and remain accessible to students now and into the future– that they will still be a resource for your own children, when they attend USC, maybe.
S: But if I’m not doing anything– L: The possibility remains. Accidents happen. It’s practically impossible to keep an eye on each person individually in here– and if we could, then you’d really have a police state, wouldn’t you? Ours are simple, minimal preventive regulations that all libraries institute, not Just ours. Keeping our voices lowered and refraining from eating and drinking and smoking– these are common courtesies that we should extend to each other, as well as safety measures. They’re no great burden on your freedom.
They’re Just social tools to grease the system, and help it run smoothly for everyone– not Just those who are more attentive to their own personal comforts. S: K. You win. So. Where can I go and finish my coffee in peace? L: Mm. You can take it to the student lounge in the Student Union, of course. Or you could go drink it next door in the Architecture Building lobby– they’ve got some benches in there. Or– it’s a nice day. Why don’t you finish it out in the quad’s: We can’t smoke in the student lounge anymore. Can we smoke in the Architecture lobby? L: Mm. I don’t know. No, I don’t think so.