It’s my favorite time of the year! No, not Christmas (at least not entirely), although I love that, too. Actually, my favorite season does have something to do with Christmas, but nothing to do with shopping, baking or decorating. It’s the time of year to find peace and joy in the local university library.
Now, I go to the local university library all year long. It’s the best place for research and archival material. It’s also a pretty decent place to work in general, as long as you can stake out a space far away from the socializing students. But come December and January? The place is absolute heaven. Deserted, quiet, heaven.
Unlike a standard public library that gets more crowded the closer you get to the holidays (as school breaks kick in, special activities for kids ramp up, and people desperate for relief from their families flood in), a university library gets emptier.
Exams are over. The students go home. The employees are predominantly adults who genuinely want to help and know the collections inside out, not bored students who are there to fulfill work-study obligations. There’s no loud socializing, study groups, or people just killing time between classes.
Anyone who is studying in there is pretty serious about what they’re working on. They’re either professors, graduate students, or members of the community who, like me, need the quiet atmosphere to get shit done. It’s a beautiful peace.
Sure, I enjoy the energy of the place the rest of the year. There’s something fun about surrounding yourself with others yet not having to interact with them. It’s a slightly more studious coffee shop or bookstore, sans lattes and bear claws. There’s free wi-fi and all the books you can handle, plus just enough background noise to make you feel less alone.
But once exams are over? It’s a fabulous place to do some serious work. You can find the same sort of peace if you know when spring break is, although it’s a shorter period of peace, usually only two weeks instead of an entire month. There is also peace in the summer, although to a slightly lesser degree since summer school is in session and new recruits are coming through on orientation tours.
The only drawback to all this peace and quiet is shorter operating hours. They close at six (or earlier) instead of midnight. But you can get so much done the rest of the time that extended hours aren’t really missed.
If you want to spend your holiday in a peaceful university library, look up their visitor restrictions before you go. Some are open to the public, no questions asked. Others, due to increased security, require you to have either a student ID or a borrower’s card to get in. Most public universities allow non-students/teachers to get cards or have access, but you may have to pay a small fee and prove that you are an in-state resident or leave an ID on file. Some only allow public access during certain hours. Private universities may be more restrictive.
So while everyone else is at the mall or holiday parties, you will find me camped out at a big wooden desk in the university library with all the other studious nerds getting some serious work done. Ah, holiday bliss.
(Photo courtesy of 12019)