Cook Library Civility Project

Institution:  Albert S. Cook Library of Towson University

When Albert S. Cook Library, Towson University’s only library, was built in 1969 the total student enrollment for the university was 8,859.  By 2011, the university’s enrollment had grown to 21,840.  Since the student population has expanded so much but the library has not, students must study in close proximity to one another while in the library.  This often results in students unintentionally disturbing one another and more students have voiced complaints that the library is not doing enough to foster a studious atmosphere.

In order to address the increasing number of student complaints about other students’ rude behavior in the library in recent months, the Cook Library Marketing Committee decided a culture shift is needed.  Committee members said that library staff do not have the time, nor do they feel comfortable being the “noise police” and that a negative list of outlawed behavior would not work.  So the committee decided a positive approach is needed and the Cook Library Civility Project was born.  This project involves self-selected members of the Marketing Committee and other interested library staff creating a video that promotes acts of civility in the library.  In this video modeled after Liberty Mutual advertisements, a student witnesses an act of civility, such as someone taking a cell phone call outside, and the witness then performs a different civil act such as throwing away trash.  These “pay-it-forward” acts of civility continue for about five or so scenes and then it will end with the tag line “Civility: That’s Our Policy; Albert S. Cook Library”.  We hope then to turn this into a true communication campaign with signs and buttons that contain the tagline.  The campaign would be unveiled during new student orientation with the hopes that it would set the tone for the new students’ behavior in the library.

The creation of this video and other campaign elements will be truly a collaborative effort.  The Cook Library Civility Project Committee members will be meeting in the next few weeks to bring together our individual ideas for the “pay-it-forward” scenes and develop a story board for the video.  Once the story lines are in place, then shooting an editing will begin and each person on the project committee will play a role that is in line with his or her interests and experiences.  Two of the committee members (Paul Brown and Lisa Woznicki) have experience in making library videos so they will be heavily involved in the filming and editing.  Three other committee members (Melissa A. Ravely, Amanda C. Youngbar, and Laksamee Putnam) spend a large amount of time working in public areas of the library so they will be working on recruiting actors for the video and thinking of ways to extend the reach of the campaign.  Librarian Joyce Garczynski who is interested in assessment will work on focus group testing the video so that we are sure that we have a message that resonates and will help change the culture at Towson University’s Cook Library.

Project type:  Project in Progress

Budget:  N/A

Team members:

Joyce Garczynski, Communications and Development Librarian
Melissa A. Ravely, Research and Instruction Librarian
Amanda C. Youngbar, Library Associate
Lisa Woznicki, Research and Instruction Librarian
Paul Brown, Multimedia Assistant
Laksamee Putnam, Research and Instruction Librarian

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