I am currently sitting in the Library with a stack of work ready to do (see Corrie’s post on her similar experience). We’ve all been there and we will all be there many times throughout our university lives. So much so that the Central Library would be quite an efficient place to live for many of us. I will try and break away from the workload for a little bit and explain what this place actually is.
It is a very very nice place to be. You walk into a modern, reception area with card readers and barriers made of chrome and glass. You are then greeted by some very high-tech scanners that let you check out and return books yourself (avoid the need for human contact of any kind). I haven’t been to any other university libraries, but I assume it’s as clean and well equipped as you would expect it to be. To the left, is the library cafe and a large study area. These two really should have a direct connection as they are the two most frequently visited areas. The study area, where I am currently typing, is a seemingly random scattering of tables, computers and cool alcoves where groups can sit around tables in privacy. Despite the social layout and the “openness” of the table arrangement, the atmosphere does seem rather familiar to a tube-train. Everyone is occupied with their business and you choose not to interrupt their stare. I am currently sitting at the same table as two others, and when the girl opposite me sneezed, it felt strangely rude for either of us to say “Bless You”. For anyone not familiar with the London train systems, communication with anyone who is unfamiliar with you is immensely frowned upon and may lead to “Mass Disapproval”. However, this analogy is rather unfair as the library is clean, spacious and far better fragranced. One thing I really can’t stand is the large window that forms the fourth wall of this area, out of which you see people leaving the campus. Effectively, you see everyone smiling and happy, off to do something far more interesting than work, while you are stuck under a pile of exceedingly heavy books and a pen that is unlikely to see to the end of this library stint. However, from the other side of the window, it does cheer you up a bit.
Moving on to the right side of the library you find the quieter computer room. This room (or lab, as it has been dubbed) experiences an odd phenomena, not seen anywhere else in the universe. Experts call it “permanent occupation”. Regardless of when you go, all computers will be in use, as will all printers as will all meeting rooms within the lab. Any time, any date, any term: permanent occupation. I always find the people in the computer lab quite fun to watch. In the aforementioned study room, there is a much more jovial ambience. People are talking, laughing, doodling and Facebook-ing. In the computer lab, everyone is transfixed by whatever is on their screen and everyone always looks rather unhappy with what they are looking at. Very rarely do you see a smile in that place; I imagine that’s as common as finding a vacant computer.
Up the stairs, you get the more specialist areas. The first floor houses various books including Maths and Engineering, everything above that is irrelevant to me so I have no idea what is up there (for all I know it could be chocolate fountains and dancing girls, I’ve just never been told to go up there so I can’t confirm). The first floor is huge and houses thousands of books that I am meant to read in my four year course. There are also more computers and tables for quiet study. These areas are great for quickly writing up notes, but I can’t stand working there for longer than 20 mins. Quiet quickly turns to eery when I am working, as I always need short distractions to keep me sane. Besides observing at more angry faces staring at computer monitors, there really aren’t any distractions up there. It almost forces you to work and that does send a shiver up my spine (by implication, my spine has been far more shivery than usual this year, at certain points it can be used to simulate SHM).
When nature calls, either with a request for input or output, facilities are available. This does all contribute to my belief that this place would make a brilliant place to live. The cafe is great if you can find a seat, and the toilets have Dyson hand dryers, which is all it takes for me to regard them highly. Despite this, you will find that students at Imperial can fight off these urges for hours on end, until they’re academic tasks are complete and they can resume acting (somewhat) human. By mid-second year, the most “evolved” Imperial students are also able to function with minimal to no sleep. I imagine studies will be done soon to determine if they still remain members of the species (hint hint Biologists).
Overall, the Library is really one of Imperial’s gems, though I have been a tad critical of the social dynamics involved, it serves us all very well and is a great place for group work if we fancy a change of scene from our own departments. It is the one place we will all inevitably end up going to, working in, sleeping in, shedding hair in and and avoiding sleep in and it is very well suited for all of it’s functions.
Thanks for Reading