People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Iowa City Public Library Approves Sleeping Ban

library sleepingThe Iowa City Public Library Board of Trustees recently passed a ban on sleeping in the library.  The sleeping ban came up in response to customer complaints. Contrary to common belief, the sleepers were not all homeless patrons and the ban will be enforced on everyone. 

While sleeping in the library is nothing new, it does bring up an important question; what is it about the library that puts people to sleep or invites them to sleep?

If libraries dug deeper into these questions it can become a potential user experience study that may result in some surprising conclusions and opportunities. Perhaps it is more than the silence that lures people to sleep.  After all, many libraries have dropped their archaic quiet policies and anyone entering libraries, especially public libraries, will find that they are actually quite noisy.

For example, a flow analysis of the building may give an idea of where people are going and where they are most commonly falling asleep.  Once we know this, a space analysis can be conducted and changes can be made.  Perhaps people are falling asleep in an area simply because it has dimmer lighting.

Anonymous surveys and questionnaires can also be implemented to find out why patrons are falling asleep.  Maybe we’ll discover that having a cafe that serves coffee will keep patrons awake or that maybe even ambient music like at Starbucks is all it takes to keep them awake.

Either way, Iowa City Public Library’s sleeping ban raises much broader questions than whether or not the ban is right or wrong.


One response to “Iowa City Public Library Approves Sleeping Ban

  1. B. E. Berger January 28, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I’ve fallen asleep in Starbucks, myself. And was not-so-politely invited to leave!

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