LibroCop™‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band

I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to find the optimal seat in the library. Not for studying, no. Instead I’ve been attempting to find the calming atmosphere needed for flicking between dissertation work and Buzzfeed quizzes (Jughead Jones is my perfect Riverdale boyfriend and according to my food choices, I am single and loving it). It needs to be quiet enough that there is no judgement when I am tweeting but busy enough that there is no temptation to blare Ariana Grande’s ‘Break Free’. The Lecky is too loud, the Ussher filled with angry Law students scowling at my sniffles (COME ON, it’s November. Our diets ALL consist of coffee and cigarettes. We are all going to be ill at some stage.) and the Berkeley seems dreary af. None of these options seem to fit the ideal library that I grew up to expect.

In the literature I gobbled up as a child, libraries were seen as safe havens. Roald Dahl tells us that the books Matilda finds in the library send her ‘a hopeful and comforting message: you are not alone.’ In Matilda, we frequent the library, a safe place for her to hide away from those who don’t understand her. Similarly in Beauty and The Beast, Belle finds comfort in the library when she is taken prisoner. The libraries in Hogwarts and the Citadel hold the answers for Hermione Granger and Samwell Tarly.

I struggle to remember any books in which the library is thought of as we think of it now - a place of stress, grim hours and scrolling through Instagram stories from the house parties you weren’t at (You probably weren’t invited anyway. No one wants to be mates with the dork who spends all their time in the library).

Last week in the Lecky, while I was simultaneously playing 14 Words With Friends games (yes, I started that trend, you can thank me after the Christmas holidays when you’ve trashed your sister at Scrabble after the family meal. That’ll teach her to come back from London with notions), I came to thinking that maybe we should romanticise the library as we once did. As a child, I sought refuge in the library. As an incoming fresher, I marvelled at the library. And now, as a fourth year student, I dread the time spent there. However, THINGS ARE ALL GOING TO CHANGE. In the coming months, I want to appreciate my time researching the subjects I care about and, of course, being surrounded by books. After all, if a library isn’t a safe space for an arts student and book lover, where is?

Note: if anyone dares to recite this message of hope back to me while I’m crying in the 24 hour library, I will not be held responsible for my actions.