The Collegian
Thursday, May 23, 2024

A Love Letter to the Stacks

<p>Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian</p>

Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian

“I find peace in Boatwright Memorial Library” is a sentence I never thought I would utter aloud. And yet, each day that requires that uphill stroll, I find myself looking forward to the silence of the stacks. Like anyone, I often dread the long hours that await me, but somehow comfort is found within it – the anonymity of a carrel, the prospect of a warm coffee and the smell of thousands of pages as I descend the basement stairs.

Admittedly, natural light or any indication of how many hours have passed are nonexistent when you venture into the forest of bookcases, but trust me, it’s better that way. Down here, opening a bag of chips does not earn you a host of eyes, and believe it or not - coughing is allowed. Never again do you have to worry about locating a free seat or accidentally playing footsie with a stranger under a shared table. 

Another plus about the long bookcases and corner desks? Perfect for gossiping. Your crush won’t hear you re-hashing the horrors of the night before, and that hot TA from Econ 101 will never catch you sneaking a glance every now and then. I can appreciate the interior decorating of the Humanities Building like anyone else, but something about the carpet in the stacks, which looks like it was stolen from an airport, calms down my Sunday morning scaries.

Now, I confess, it took time for me to discover the wonders of the stacks. Like you I was subject to the overcrowded main floors and even had a brief stint in the slightly terrifying liminal space that is the first-floor basement. Is that much beige legal? I even tried outdoor studying, but unfortunately, it’s not a very mysterious look to be hunched over, squinting through the sun at your laptop that sounds like a jet airliner about to take off. 

My journey at Boatwright has been a humbling one, but I can still remember the first time I dared go down just one more level. It was peaceful, tranquil even, and after the first minute, I knew I belonged. Not a single inquisitive stare as I clutched my 8:15 coffee and an abnormally large muffin. I was welcome. Of course, there were plenty of desks, but each of them had an outlet and a coat hook. As soon as I settled into my soft swivel chair (another plus!), I knew I had finally found my proper place.

Throughout my time, I’ve discovered a nonverbal understanding between the regulars of the stacks: what happens during the hours of studying, whatever helps you submit that last assignment to Blackboard at an embarrassing hour, is okay with us. After all, power-napping without even having to leave the library is the epitome of efficiency. Eat that breakfast sandwich at 4 p.m. or even bring that comfy blanket from your bed and settle in; we’re all in this together. 

Contact opinion's writer Sophia Demerath at sophia.demerath@richmond.edu 

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