In the Margins

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By Elizabeth Hewitt

The other day, while in the middle of a marathon stint in our beloved main library, I excused myself from my academic pursuits for a visit to the lady’s room.

After the standard awkward exchange in the vestibule between the two doors, I found myself alone (a rare occurrence anyways, but especially remarkable for the main floor). My solitude continued until I was washing my hands, when two very well-dressed girls entered. The exchange that followed was so distracting that I forgot to use the Dyson Airblade and dried my hands on my jeans instead.

Girl #1: This is disgusting.
Girl #2: (legs crossed and knees slightly bent) ewwwww!!!
Girl #1: (peering into a stall) Let’s get out of here.
Girl #2: I can’t! (she disappears behind one of the doors. The sound of a large quantity of toilet paper being unrolled follows)
Girl #1: Fine, but I can’t stand it. I’m waiting outside.

Now, I’m certainly not one to champion our library. But this was ridiculous, especially considering that the toilet paper was fully stocked, the cleaners had only just left, and both of the toilets were fully functional.

Like everybody else who received the principal’s email over the summer regarding the cancellation of the library redevelopment project, I audibly scoffed when I read the bit about the intermediary measures they were taking. Because really, it will take more than a bandage to heal the woefully misguided architectural experiment that is our main library. And when Owen Wilton enthused over the library staffs’ attempts to improve the atmosphere of the workspace in an interview with The Saint, I rolled my eyes. Because it takes more than the freedom to drink hot beverages and use cell phones to win me over.

But as it turns out, that’s exactly what it takes to buy my approval. As stupid as it sounds, there is something about the zoning plan that makes it a little bit better. The General Zone is brilliant, and the orange ottomans that look like something out of The Jetsons are surprisingly comfortable.

Nobody likes the library. It’s ugly, under-stocked, and inconvenient in almost every sense. Whatever foolish architect had the misfortune to design it clearly did not have a mind for practicality. Because who puts two bathroom doors so close together? It’s a pain in the ass to use, there’s no question. But think what a pain in the ass it must be to work there and hear nothing but griping from every single library-user. This place is a logistical nightmare: at least one of the printers is always malfunctioning, most of the SAULCAT computers have been down all year, there are gaping holes in the collection, and several thousand of us roll through here every day.

So, while I stand by my official position on the overall suckiness of the library, I just want to say how refreshing it is to see somebody trying to change it. The couches, the multiple printing stations, and the freedom to consume hot beverages and cold food in specified zones are proof that somebody out there is listening to all our bitching and attempting to do something about it.

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