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Shhh! What not to do in the law library

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Exam season is nearing. Inside most law students, tension will rise, nerves will rack, and stresses will out. The only logical solution is to pack them into a single room and test their humanity ahead of their exams.

To avoid wreaking havoc on your classmates in the law library and to assist in providing a platform for venting in the comment section below, I have tallied a few of the more egregious instances of misconduct.

On behalf of all students who make use of one of the oldest institutions in the world, this list goes out to the man biting into an apple across the desk from you, the woman folding the Doritos bag into fourths before she tosses it in the trash, and the slack-offs playing Fortnite in the corner group study room.

Post this on your lockers, leave it on the “community table,” keep a copy in your pocket to pull out on an unsuspecting first year. At the very least, complain that it’s grossly inadequate (I admit, it’s not exhaustive.).

After talking to several classmates across the country, I present the list:

Talk less, text more

Whereas texting and driving are firmly discouraged, patrolling the stacks phone-in-hand is only appropriate while texting. Is your cousin Jerry calling to wish you happy birthday? Did your mother tell you, you had to answer Jerry’s phone call? Most of your classmates would likely ask that you hit the stairwell or get a breath of fresh air, if they had a say.

Laughing out loud

I could have put “lol,” but that would’ve looked awkward in a header. The point is we all appreciate a good laugh, a quick injection of endorphins before we return to the outline last year’s CALI king left in his wake. Conversations that lead to side-stitching guffaws, though, might well be left for the pizza break at your university’s closest dive bar. They say laughter is infectious, but nothing takes the humor out of a decent human being like a four-hour Civil Procedure exam.

Headphones have one job, and they can’t even

We can probably hear you playing the Backstreet Boys, and at first we’re singing along. But we’re not getting the base or the vocals. For the most part we’re hearing a strange screeching noise erupting from your earbuds. This noise is a distraction for several reasons: first, it’s screeching; second, we’re wondering what it is you’re doing because we know you aren’t studying; third, we’re curious to find out at what age you will lose your hearing. If we’re kind-hearted, we may start to worry for you. Try knocking down the volume a few levels.

Breakout rooms are for studying

I’ll profess I’ve never used one myself, but word is they aren’t sound proof. Out of sight, still in mind. If you use one of these rooms that people tell me exist, inside voices are still a must. The other option is to join our buddies at the dive bar down the street for a piece of pizza. After all, misery loves company.

Follow the signs

There are unwritten rules, and there are un-posted signs. If you have not yet learned, law school is largely about finding out what people are not telling you (where to get the best outline, whether to order coffee at the end of a firm dinner, how to use the online schedule system). There is a floor for talking, there is a floor for not talking, and there is a floor where no one goes. Try to follow suit.

Food for distracting thought

For some law students, the food policy equates to The Greatest Showman’s hit ballad (. . . it’s “Never Enough”). For others, the hallowed pages of scholars long lost do not belong amongst pizza boxes. If your library does not have a policy for inside food, remember the three factors that matter most to your fellow classmates: the crunch, the whiff, and the toss. Generally, students do not want to hear your snack—that is, the crunch of preservatives, the smack of your lips, or the crinkle of wrappers. Certainly, no one wants to smell it, and that includes the leftovers you leave in the petite trashcan beside their study desk. Consider the four-foot tall can just outside the sliding doors.

Distribution

No, I am not talking about grades, but if you’re thinking it, we are brothers and sisters in spirit. Recall a time you entered the first floor of the library, and it was quiet (perhaps that time you were late for class or when exams were over . . . or when the library was closed). The room likely was near empty. How do you pick a seat—do you join the stranger sitting at one of the few empty tables? Probably not. They say lawyers have large egos, and the room rarely is big enough to hold them all. On the few occasions that isn’t the case, let them spread their wings.

She doesn’t even go here

They walk among us. Perhaps you mistook them for one of us (you poor soul). They are the undergraduates, the youthful, spry plucked fresh from a classroom unfamiliar with the Socratic method. They carry their Ti 84 Pluses like badges on a neon lanyard, and they ask us to break bread with them—and largely, we say no. Nonetheless, we all must remember two bits of information: first, they do not know the pain they inflict; and second, for most of us, the library is a public facility filled with books for the public’s use, and it is required by law that they welcome visitors. The truth hurts. Trust me, I know.

With these guidelines in mind, I wish you a productive series of trips to the library this semester. Or maybe you don’t even go to the library, and you’re just curious about the way the rest of us live. I applaud your sacrifice for the rest of us. Go in peace and quiet.

Danielle Maddox Kinchen Danielle Maddox Kinchen is a 3L student at the Louisiana State University Law Center, where she serves as a senior editor for the Louisiana Law Review and member of the Moot Court Board. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tulane University, where she majored in Political Science and English and served two years as the editor-in-chief of Tulane’s student-run newspaper, the Tulane Hullabaloo. Danielle formerly worked as a metro news reporter in Baton Rouge for Louisiana’s premier newspaper The Advocate. She also worked as a summer journalist intern and later freelancer for U.S. News and World Report. In addition, her work has been published in the Louisiana Bar Journal.