The library used to be a place of utter un-productivity for me. The silence, the stuffiness and the feigned concentration all brought me into direct contact with the greying boarder of a comatose state. But then I discovered working in my room just meant extended nap time – so me and the library had to sort out some kind of effective working pact. Yet, now traversing my final year, there are a few things about the library and the evident hustle that takes place in it, that I have decided to take some real issue with.
No .1 – The Stage Whisper.
I work in the SPS library. It should stand for Select People’s Study Library considering very clear-cut gang lines develop as the year progresses. Territorial possession of tables and glowering stares are the welcome party for newbies who have not been pulling solid 9-7’s since October. But it stands for Sociology Politics and…I actually don’t know what the last S is for. It could be Social Anthropology….i’m genuinely not sure. But anyway, this library, designed to let natural light caress your double-strength, high-gloss text-book pages, is open planned. It means sound carries. The librarians, a pretty chilled-out lot, occupy the lower level, so us students have free reign up top – yet the taboo of speaking still holds court. So to get around it, happy homework gangs, crowded around adjacent tables decide to whisper. But not the imperceptible whisper that is conducive to putting together an escape plan while your kidnapper is negotiating with the police. A stage whisper. You know, the type of whisper that takes place by actors on a stage to convey the idea of a real whisper, but audible enough so the AUDIENCE CAN HEAR??!!
What is the point. Seriously? Why go to all those lengths. Just talk normally. Because when said culprits whisper all this unchartered air begins to gush out between their teeth as they start to over enunciate and develop an elongated lisp so all I hear is the crashing waves of sss’s and punctuative, plosive ‘ps’ and ‘bs’ that sear through my headphones. And then they laugh – because obviously essay planning can only be endured with humour. Imagine that – a stage whispered laugh. If you can’t, it sounds like rapid fire heavy breathing and asthmatic inhaling. Why? Just. Why?
No.2 – Adopting the Studious Position with Pzaaaaz
You know those people. They clomp up the steps, huffing and puffing so all the tables shake and everyone raises their head in anticipation of their entrance. Swinging their backpack/handbag some kind of holding device off their shoulders they let it land on the table, wham, the impact rippling through the stacked books and forcibly re-arranging the metal casing of your laptop, so that your equipment ends up with a sympathetic dent. Then throwing themselves onto their chairs, they sigh at all the (un-called for ) effort they have expelled, before scrambling (loudly) to unpack their chargers, snap open their laptops, smash their (constantly vibrating) phones in the space that separates your elbow from their sprawl of papers.
Click goes the top of the highlighter, preeeeessssss goes the nib engraving their thoughts into the very psyche of the long dead table their elbows are pressing studiously into. They exhale, nostrils flaring as your skin is engulfed in a stream of air.
WHY SO MUCH EFFORT PEOPLE. Making notes just isn’t that deep. The library is a quiet place. Learn to unpack quietly. Learn to notes take quietly. Learn to BREATHE quietly. We all know that this year is a hustle year, we’re all getting into gear, but being extraneously noisy is at best a distraction at worst an inconvenience. Stop, please and learn the art of gentle working.
And last but not least….
No.3 – “Hey, i’m in the library…what’s up?”
Are.You.Mad. It’s not a question, it’s not even a form of rhetoric, it is the sound of utter exasperation. Not only is your phone ON (and at this point i’d like to also call out the jingle for what’s app messages – that is seriously getting to me, a still non-smartphone user), but you both register the call, register your surroundings, and answer – in a more than AUDIBLE voice. At this point I urge you to bring back the somewhat redundant stage whisper at least. That is better than the blatant causality with which you engulf all within sonic reach with the ins and outs of your life. Stop.
I’m not saying i’ve never answered my phone in the library. Sometimes things happen. But when they do, you cup your hand over your mouth, whisper ‘in lib, hold on’, and dash down the stairs to the freedom of outside. Upon your return, you nod your head apologetically to all who greet your presence, place said phone in your pocket where its’ vibrations will not be heard, and return to your work. The precarious peace has been restored.
The library hustle is a serious thing, but let’s make it a hush hush hustle.