Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cell Phone Blues

About once a year, I am contacted by a student distraught enough about cell phone use in our library to work up through the layers to reach me. We have signs posted strictly forbidding cell phone use in the library. And the library users routinely flout the rule. We used to try to restrict the use to certain areas. That worked so badly that the librarians voted for total restriction in the hopes that then users might restrict themselves to the limited areas. Hah!

If the conversations seemed to be about emergency issues, I would not feel so badly about the use of cell phones. But I rarely hear parents checking on ill children, or even clerks calling in for clarification about the research assignment. The cell phone conversations in the library are the same inane, sometimes too-private conversations that are carried on everywhere else. So the most recent cell phone conversation with a student actually ended with a pleasant surprise for me when I explained there was no way I could jam the signals, just keep complaining and we'd keep asking them to leave. The student and I joked about perhaps there was a laser pointer you could use to silence cell phones and the users would be none the wiser.

I was so curious that I looked on the Internet. A short search turns up this fascinating information. While jamming cell phones is certainly against the law, the FCC has never received a complaint, because cell phone users assume it's something else interfering with their phone. The manufacturers of jammers actually sell a lot of jammers in the U.S. Sadly, the ones discussed here could not possibly blanket a whole library. But they might cover a reading room.... HMMMM. href="">


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