When I was much younger and a new arrival to the United States, I discovered the library. The library was a place of books. Lots of books. I also realized that the library was a place of silence. I learned early to be quiet while I was in the library: to whisper, walk carefully, keep food away–far, far away.
However now that I’m much older, the rules of library etiquette seem have become more and more obsolete in certain places. In the school that I attend, there is a Starbucks in the library. There is a semi lounge/semi study area where students can bring food and sip their coffee. While there are quiet areas on the second and third floors, students bring food from snacks such as chips–to meals such as burritos, chicken, and rice. Most of the time, people chatter in the library with their friends as they study.
The library at my school is a dynamic place. It is also, not only my favorite place to study on campus, but my favorite place to be on campus. At the library I can get stuff done, and it’s comforting to know that I do not have to be alone, huddled somewhere in a quiet corner to do so. My study area of choice is the second floor quiet area with its long oak-wood, polished desks. The seats are not always comfortable (they are straight and stiff), but that’s a small sacrifice to make for the broad view I get of the campus as I sit next to the large glass windows that open up to the new Science building made almost entirely of glass, and the ever-so-packed parking lot.
Since I transferred to this school, I do not know many people. But I still like the communal atmosphere in the library. I may be studying in the library and another student may ask: “can you please watch my stuff?” Trusting a complete stranger to keep watch of his/her lap tap, books, notebooks, bag, and other personal belongings. Of course, I always agree to; others are willing to do the same for me. Yesterday, a student in my intro to journalism class, stayed in the library for about an extra 3 minutes when I left to get a notebook I had forgotten in my room. When a girl asked me to watch her stuff and stayed too long wherever she had gone and I had to leave the library, another girl agreed to watch her stuff instead.
This is the kind of atmosphere that I enjoy in the library: mutual trust, and shared purpose that is eduction. I occasionally see people that I know and may engage in a brief conversation, or simply exchange a handshake. Then like others around me, it is back to studying and learning. The library makes it so easy to tune out the noise from the outside, and to spread out your books on the table and declare for that time that you are there that that is your own space, and that you are not in this alone.