Library locks up distractions

Just in time for finals week, Albion College’s Stockwell-Mudd Library has recently unveiled a new program to help students stay focused on their studies – and not their cell phones.

It’s called the cell phone lock-up program, and it was both designed and implemented by Cheryl Blackwell, reference librarian at Stockwell-Mudd Library, and Becky Markovich, Stockwell-Mudd’s circulation/student supervisor.

The program is fairly simple, and it functions much like its title suggests. Any student can go to the circulation desk at the Stockwell-Mudd Library, hand over their cell phone to a staff member, show their student ID and sign a short agreement. The library will then assign each student’s phone a “locker” of sorts, and will hold it for up to four hours so that students may limit distractions.

Although there are, of course, a multitude of distractions that can contribute to poor academic performance, cell phone usage appears to play a very large role in distracting students from their studies. According to a recent study at Kent State University, the average GPA of students with high cell phone usage was a 2.8, while students with low cell phone usage had an average GPA of 3.2. This statistic, according to Markovich, was not surprising based on her own observations of students in the library.

“We go across the bridge, and we see all the students with their books flopped open and texting,” Markovich said.

Blackwell, too, has made such observations, and has even witnessed students texting on their phone and their computer at the same time.

“Students think they can multi-task, but you’re not multi-tasking – you’re stopping and starting, stopping and starting,” Blackwell said.

This stopping and starting method is far from efficient, and Blackwell believes that the cell phone lock-up program could help offer a solution for students, or, at the very least, make students more aware of how dependent upon their cell phones they really are.

Blackwell likens this awareness to a popular method employed in weight-loss programs, during which individuals are asked to keep a list of everything they eat throughout the day. At the end of the day, often times individuals are shocked by how much they have consumed without even being aware of it. Blackwell hopes that this cell phone lock-up program could have a similar effect, and make students more aware of just how many times they check their phone, or help them to see how much more productive they can be without the distraction.

Ultimately, according to both Blackwell and Markovich, the goal of the program is not only awareness, but to help students be more successful, as well. This goal, Blackwell says, is one of the guiding principles of the library as a whole, and is what drives the staff to come up with these new ideas like the cell phone lock-up program.

“The library is not for us,” Blackwell said. “It’s not ‘how do we make our jobs easier?’ It’s ‘how do we make it easier for the students?’ And I think everyone here really pretty much buys into that.”

Photo by Tess Haadsma.

About Tess Haadsma 24 Articles
Tess is a senior from Battle Creek, Mich., studying English literature and psychology. She is a member of the swimming and diving team, and is an avid burrito enthusiast. Follow her on twitter at @TessHaadsma.

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