How to play nice in the library

    First off, don’t do this. Photo by Hannah Green / North by Northwestern.

    As midterm season finally draws to a close and the the race to the finishing line is growing near, thousands of stressed and busy undergraduates will be released into study mode. And study mode for me means nothing other than logging those countless hours onto my library time sheet.

    Just like any social setting, the library has its own code of conduct. No, I don’t just mean the “This is a quiet study area” signs hung around the halls. I’m talking about unwritten rules, cultural norms and all that other stuff you learned in Sociology 110. Follow these rules, and you’ll be the most popular and productive Wildcat in all of Periodicals. Or the stacks. Or Core. You get the picture.

    Rule 1: Sit. Stay.
    Hopefully by this point in your time at Northwestern you’ve found that special place in the library where you can maximize work efficiency while still having at least a mediocre experience. There are groups of people who routinely flock to the same area — the group of friends who frequents Reference is obviously a different group than those who prefer Periodicals. Accept this. Don’t try to mix it up during finals week. You’ll only end up offsetting the delicate balance of library population distribution. And do you really want to be “that girl” who betrayed Core for InfoCommons? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    Rule 2: iPod earbuds are popular for a reason
    One thing my parents taught me throughout childhood is that investment is a good thing. Invest in a more expensive yet well-made coat and it’ll last longer. Invest in a puppy and you’ll add a family member for the number of years of its dog-yeared life. The same is true with mp3 accessories. If you buy a pair of crappy headphones from the Norris bookstore, your fellow library bums will be able to hear your music. Is that soothing, work-conducive Debussy you’re listening to while writing your paper? Probably not. So get yourself a pair of decent earbuds and keep the booty bopping Akon to yourself.

    Rule 3: Not all armchairs are for the same purpose as La-Z-Boys
    Even if you skipped out on the Keg to spend your night reading in the infamous comfy chairs in Periodicals, please at least pretend to be doing the work you oh-so-studiously brought with you. Let’s review the process. You come to the library to do the homework you don’t want to do — or can’t do, in some cases — in your room. You then must actually do your work to make the process complete, or at least semi-worthwhile. No, that does not include bringing a sleeping eye mask, cuddling up with your backpack and taking a two hour-long nap. I’ve seen it happen and while it is incredibly entertaining for me to witness, it’s kind of embarrassing if you’re the one doing the snoring.

    Rule 4: There are no catwalks in the library
    When you go to the library, your sole focus should be getting your work done. Getting your work done means being comfortable, and being comfortable means not dressing well. Okay, honestly, you there, in your skinny jeans and Tory Burch flats, you’re making us feel bad. When I roll up to the library preparing for a long night of studying, the last thing on my mind is what Stacy London would say to me in that 360-degree mirror. So for all you fashionistas out there, reality check: You look ridiculous. That’s right, it’s weird, uncool and almost unnatural to look cute at 12 a.m. in the library. Get over your wardrobe and dress like the rest of us before the Ghost of Self Expression (think Ghost of Christmas Past, only wearing a fedora) comes in and makes the rest of us feel guilty, too.

    Rule 5: Indoor voices aren’t just for kindergartens
    And I quote Zac Efron in a recently popular SNL skit titled High School Musical 4: “People can hear you. Everyone can hear you.” No matter how quiet you think you’re being, you’re not being quiet enough. Talking in the library is a lose-lose situation; whispering as soft as possible is just as annoying of a distraction as yelling would be. If you hear a neighbor whispering to their comrade, you naturally try to listen to their conversation, especially if it appears to be particularly juicy. Problem is, you can’t actually hear anything they’re saying, and are left to wonder what really went down between Jim and Carol after the Keg last night. At the same time, PEOPLE LAUGHING, CONVERSING LOUDLY AND SPEAKING IN FOREIGN TONGUES IS AS DISTRACTING AS THESE CAPITAL LETTERS.

    Rule 6: Study Rooms. All-around bad news.
    What possibly could be so incredibly private about your problem set that you need a whole study room to complete it? Do those scoundrels who snatch up the precious study rooms in Core not understand that they could just as easily type that paper at an open table a mere 10 feet from where they’re currently sitting in solitude? What’s worse, though, might be when you (and your study group, of course) finally find what you believe to be an empty room in the towers, only to open the door and find a loner taking up a Goldman Sachs-size conference table. Do me a favor and don’t be that hermit. You’ll automatically be labeled as both rudely inconsiderate and strangely antisocial. And unless you’re Oscar the Grouch, these are two descriptions you probably would not want associated with your persona.

    I can’t promise you that if you follow these rules you’ll ace all your finals or find your future husband or wife for being so productive and considerate. But I can promise you that if the library suddenly turned into Survivor, you wouldn’t get voted off. Take it from me, I’ve clocked far too many hours in Periodicals myself already. But hey, at least I’m in sweatpants.


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