In the University Library

There could be a thousand and one titles I could have given to this blog post. Perhaps Where the Wild Things Are, or How Not to Not Be a Student, or some other witty and catchy heading which may catch the eye (though unlikely) of someone surfing the interwebs. But nah, I’ll stick with the simple one I’ve given to this particular heading. – On with the content!

To begin with, it was a Thursday, yesterday’s Thursday, the somethingth of October 2013. A friend had asked if I would like to accompany her to a not too far away university library just for the sake of studying and for a change of scenery during the slow days of this October week break. I accepted the invitation and off I went in search of the university.

Google Maps told me where to go and I told my taxi driver (dad) where to go.  Within one second of arriving on location I was struck with an intriguing thought.

Where the heck am I?

A giant block of grey with cloudy windows stood ashamed of itself in front of me whilst students walked, ran, skipped, hopped and jumped by. It really was quite an eyesore. The building wasn’t much of a pretty sight either.

There were signs. Signs with arrows and letters and words and colours (mostly blue) on them. “Main Entrance” popped up now and there so I tried to make sense of the simple jungle.

Three texts, one phone call and half a headache later, I eventually found my friend as well as a way of actually getting into the building. It’s not as easy as it sounds or should be!

It was a small but cosy library desperately trying to keep up to modern standards; a glowing, colour changing thing here; an electronic returns system there.

Students. Students everywhere. Well, everywhere apart from the grey-haired man in the corner, trying to blend in with the young, reading his newspaper. It was so busy! I don’t know if it was a case of a small library or an overpopulated university, but it was definitely busy.

We walked and walked along a winding yellowish laminate trail through the library which obviously was a collection of rooms with the walls knocked down. It may as well have been the yellow brick road to Oz since it went one way and then another as people joined in behind us, as if we were all in search of something awe inspiring and amazing: a good spot.

The quest was worth it though. An area full of tables suitable for group work with solo booths at either side became our dwelling for the day, right at the back. I unpacked my study materials from my soaked-through bag and got to work.

I could have sat there all day, staring at the many variations of student. After a short while, my brain had configured a system of sorts, a system which could tell me an awful lot about a person: their purpose, their field of study, their attitude towards their chosen subject(s) and so on. It really was a lot more intriguing than the headache my homework was giving me.

In the university library! - ©
“An area full of tables suitable for group work with solo booths at either side”

Perhaps the easiest of the many types of students to pick out, was and still is a student studying physical education. It’s quite hilarious actually, as if the sight should be in a comical novel or film. For example, yesterday, for an hour or so, at the table in front of us, sat three young male students. It was blatantly obvious that they had spent no less than an hour in front of the bathroom mirror that morning, trying to impress every living and non living thing around them, like they expected us all to blush at the sight of them and their well-oiled hair. I just stared, fascinated by them, like a species you’ve heard of but never seen until this moment. Each of them had on a different though similar looking and very expensive tracksuits: two black, one red. And then there was the teeth. It was almost unreal and impossible as to how white every one of their teeth were. Simon Cowell would have nothing on them. Oh, the accents. If there was ever an award for worst Scottish accent, they’d win in it by a long shot. They spoke as if they were trying to impersonate one of the familiar Scottish sports commentators who spoke right down gritty Scottish but with no slang. They failed however, slang slipped out and they couldn’t keep up the “Oh, I am a professional team leader, I eat, breathe and sleep sports and if I keep up this accent, I can sound highly qualified as if I know what I am doing.” – Or something like that anyway.

Then there were  the accountants. Funnily enough, in complete contrast, it was a group of three young female students. They too however looked as if they spent a day or two in front of the mirror before coming here: bright red lips, tightly tied up hair, high heels apart as tall as the Eiffel Tower (apart from one who wore pink trainers) and expressions as if to say “Hello. I am an accountant.” They spent their hour or two solving mathematical problems and getting through exercises set by the lecturer, leaving now and then and coming back with a take away cup full of some sort of hot beverage. I recall that there was some sort of minor accident on the table involving a hot beverage and some course notes. Nothing too extreme.

Oh, and we mustn’t forget the young man who sat alone at a small round table with a laptop for as long as we were in the library, maybe even longer, I didn’t stay to find out. His eyes were glued to that laptop all day -I can’t think of a time he blinked never mind taking a small break to glance around- as if he was competing in some form of race. Or maybe he just left an assignment to the last minute.

Students and people of the public (though mostly students) came in and out of the place all day. Tall, small; fat, skinny; young, old; wearing a hoody or rain jacket. It just fascinated me that such an environment existed; an environment I had never experienced before. I’ve been in libraries before but nothing quite like this.

The most startling thing perhaps, was the thought that this could be me in only a few years time in whatever university library, surely they are all pretty much the same. How on earth am I going to be able to spend an hour in front of the mirror every morning as well as having a different hoody every single day?



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