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Phones OKd in library
Change stirred by rise in job-seekers
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Forsyth County News
Thinking of taking your cell phone into the library? Fine, but keep it quiet.

The Forsyth County library board approved a policy Monday that allows reasonable use of cell phones on the premises of either system branch.

Library Director Jon McDaniel said the change stems from an increase of job-seekers using library resources in their hunt for employment.

“Someone sitting at the computer as a business person has to communicate on the phone sometimes,” he said. “They realize they need to talk as quiet as possible. Otherwise, they’re losing something valuable to them.”

The former ban on cell phones, McDaniel said, was a “semi-enforcable” rule.

“Our attempts to control cell phone use have been sort of hit or miss,” he said. “People are getting better at handling cell phones in public places. If they can do it politely and peacefully, then they can use them.”

McDaniel said there remains a need for those who require absolute quiet when they’re hitting the books for class or turning the pages of a good novel.

“We still need sanctuary for the ones that need to get away from it all when they visit,” he said.

To that end, the board voted 5-0 on a quiet room policy that sets aside a place in the building where no discussion is allowed, on cell phones or otherwise.

Board Chairwoman Mary Helen McGruder said the new policy states that patrons “refrain from all conversations in the quiet room.”

McDaniel admitted to having “been hushed myself” when in the library.

He said the new policy will not overlook those in the main part of the library who are talking too loudly on their cell phones.

“We will go after the individual who is talking too loud as opposed to anybody who’s using a phone in a quiet way, because a lot of people are able to talk quietly without causing any problem,” McDaniel said.

Board member Kristin Morrissey said staff members should be mindful that cell phone conversations aren’t the only distracting type of communication.

“If you’re having a normal conversation and you’re having a conversation on the phone, how do you say one’s OK and one’s not?” Morrissey said. “If you’re in the quiet room though, it’s all off limits.”

The library board meets at least once every two months to discuss policies and define the purpose and direction of the system.

E-mail Frank Reddy at