Library Confessions: Comment article

An article on the Exeter University library, for Exeposé .

Read on for the full text.

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Taken from page 8 ( of Issue 652, 14 March 2016.


Confession: I don’t like being in the university library. If anything, I hate it. And I find that fact somehow shameful. Perhaps it’s because I’m an English Literature student; I’m supposed to be cosied up in a well-lit corner, surrounded by books, with a latte in one hand and my Shakespearean quotes tote bag in the other. Perhaps it was because, before I came to university, when I pictured a ‘library’, it was the one in Roald Dahl’s Matilda, where the six-year-old heroine visits every weekend to be handed stacks of Hardy by a helpful, bespectacled librarian. Now, however, the word ‘library’ conjures up a very different mental image. A sweaty, cardiac-arrest inducing mental image. When I go to the library, I am on a mission. I don’t wander into the library to peruse the shelves. In the narrow lanes between shelves, there is no room for perusal. Things get tricky if a book you need is on the bottom shelf. Unless you want to be trodden on, or –worse –endure the wrathful passive aggression of several other students trying to squeeze past, you must time the act of bending down to perfection. It’s like accompanying your housemate to their ‘beginners’ class in swing dancing, and discovering that everyone knows the choreography except you.

If you want a seat in the library, prepare for more anguish. Unless you fancy rising with the birds and the rowers, you can kiss goodbye those coveted window seats overlooking Forum Hill. Instead, your best bet is the Silent Study Space on the right. It’s full of people who, like you, missed out on the seat they really wanted, and are subsequently fuming in silence. Add to that the stuffy, oppressive heat and a room full of sweaty hairlines, and it’s a great atmosphere, I promise.

As a third year with a 6,000 word essay and a dissertation to write, the overcrowding in the library is not ideal. Yes, I know from the SAAB’s posters and friendly emails that there is further available study space (‘Why not try the Sanctuary?’). I also know I’m not alone in the everlasting quest for a seat next to a power socket. But I still find it deeply frustrating having to cart a DofE backpack full of books around Devonshire House. Following Exeposé’s investigation into overcrowding on campus last year, we’ve learnt that 80 per cent of students feel that the campus is over capacity. And the number of students admitted is still growing. Yes, at the minute the library is a stressful nightmare for third-years whose only waking thought is finding the perfect quotation for their chapter titles. Spare us a thought at this difficult time. But I feel more sorry for the students returning next year. In the library and across the campus, it’s only going to get worse.

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