What do you miss most about going to campus every day?
What are you looking forward to most when everyone is vaccinated and campus operations shift to the new post-pandemic normal?
Me? I’m looking forward to hanging out once again at the Library.
5 things I miss about the Library:
Student Energy: The Library at my school is the institution’s intellectual, emotional, and geographic heart. Students do everything academic, and most things social, at the Library. The Library is where they study in groups and dig in for solo studying. The Library’s vibe is something between a high-energy startup and a quiet place to get work done. There is tremendous energy to being around students in their places – and the Library is very much a physical space in which they nest. One of the privileges of a life in academia is hanging out around students. The Library is where we all share space.
Random Conversations: As the Library is the center of campus, everyone passes through it. Being a happy place – a beautiful place – everyone wants to spend whatever they can in the Library. The Library is the default place to have casual meetings over coffee. You never know who you will run into at the Library on any given day, but you are guaranteed to run into someone. So much of a university’s business gets done around relationships and random conversations. The Library is the connective tissue of a college or university. Zoom rooms are poor substitutes for the unplanned and unstructured discussions that occur in the Library.
Librarians: If you don’t learn something when talking to a librarian, you ask the wrong questions. Students form deep relationships with academic librarians. Librarians are essential partners for professors in course development and teaching and students in coursework. The knowledge production work of universities would grind to a halt without librarians. I miss chatting with the range of librarians that work in the Library.
Books: My work life is digital. Everything is on a screen. Spending time in the stacks is an antidote to digital life velocity. Ready access to books – thousands and thousands of books – is a privilege beyond psychological grounding. Serious scholarship requires serendipitous book discovery. You never realize how much you miss books in your academic library until a global pandemic hits.
Magical Spaces: The Library on my campus is full of magical spaces. There is this indescribable combination of very old and very new spaces. Rather than describing these spaces, I’ll share some pictures – which you can use as our Zoom backgrounds.