I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently in unintentional observation of the creatures that often migrate to a particular book-filled place of silence at this time of year. Yes, I am talking about the university library, which draws students in their masses towards it when exams inevitably roll around.
Below is a short list of the different types of library-goers I’ve encountered on my travels. Perhaps you will recognise a few; you may even spot yourself.
1. Organisational overload
This person will come in, set down their lever-arch file, books, pens, paper, highlighters, post-it notes, spare pens, hole-puncher, stapler, spare pens for the spare pens… you get the picture. Naturally, their file is colour-coordinated as if their life depends on it: dividers all down the length of the folder, those colourful sticky labels, and not a sheet out of place. By the time everything is arranged on their desk, it’s almost time for lunch.
2. ALL the technology
They walk in with headphones on, iPod in hand, sit down. An iPhone comes out of their pocket, and onto the desk. They fish out a charger from their bag, and pull out a MacBook Pro, its charger and an iPad. I don’t know what they might be eating for lunch, but my bet would be on apples.
3. The one who’s always there
My library isn’t open 24 hours like most university libraries. But there’s always that one person who, when you go in just as the library has opened, is already there, head-down, scribbling furiously. They don’t move the whole day: you take your lunch break, come back, leave at the end of the day, and come back the next morning only to find them in the same position, in the exact same spot.
4. The one who’s never there
In total contrast to the one above, this person will come in, claim their place, and then immediately leave, having marked their territory.
5. The water drinker
There is nothing more to be said about this girl (yes, it’s gotta be a girl) except that she is taking gulps of water before and after taking gulps of water. Nothing else is getting done.
6. The noisy one
They stumble in oblivious to the rustle of their rustly jackets, drop their bag with a thud, and proceed to rustle as much as possible while taking off their rustly jackets. They plop into a squeaky chair, jiggle around in order to confirm whether it was a one-off squeak or actually a squeaky chair – it’s almost always the latter – thus leading them to get up and swap it for the one at the next desk. Of course, there will be much banging throughout this oh-so-reckless process, followed either by excessively violent keyboard-bashing, or paper ruffling, or both.
7. The cluttered one
Their work space will often be filled with a bunch of stuff that they will have undoubtedly convinced themselves are necessary: Vaseline, hand cream, an energy drink, hand sanitizer (why..?!), tissues, cereal bars, chewing gum.. Again, usually a girl, though I mean to make no generalisations.
8. The enigma
Typically an unshaven male wearing a crumpled-tshirt (again, meaning no generalisations) enters the library, takes the first empty spot he finds, sits down, opens his laptop and alternates between peering intently at the screen, typing with a furrowed brow, and biting his nails. After about two hours of this, he suddenly yet purposefully closes the lid of his laptop, tucks it under his arm and strides out.
9. The couple
This is a library. Go away.
10. Silent disco-ers!
A line of people came stamping (read: attempted dancing) through the library, in some sort of substandard recreation of a conga line. I’m not sure what the purpose of this was – I understand it’s a bit of fun, but seriously, there’s better places and better ideas. It actually turned out to be not-so-silent after all anyway, because muffled giggling was accompanying their failed attempt at marching silently through.
My exams for this year have only just ended, and I’m already actually missing the library! (Is that weird?)