By Jemma Slingo
You have probably been on a mandatory tour of your university library by now. Usually conducted at anti-social hours of the morning, these induction sessions claim to give you all the information you need about your new academic surroundings. In reality, nobody can remember esoteric referencing systems, complicated shelf layouts and boring loan dates, particularly when it’s 9 am and everyone’s talking in whispers.
Even if you were listening, the information that you’re given on library tours is pretty irrelevant. Forget about books, what you really need to know is who you might meet between the shelves. To fill you in, here are four types of people you might bump into in the library. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
- The Library Lodger. Fond of pyjama-like clothing and padding around in their socks, Library Lodgers are top of the pecking order. These students can often be seen at desks strewn with coffee cups and Ritalin tablets, and ooze self-satisfaction. If you’re unlucky enough to encounter one, they are sure to tell you— with manic excitement —how many days it has been since they stepped outside. Beware: Lodgers breed during exam term and by June the library will have turned into the world’s weirdest squatters’ den.
- The Sniffer. Universally loathed, Sniffers are to be avoided at all costs. This is easier said than done, however. Sound travels a long way in a silent room and nasal noise is particularly tricky to drown out. Crucially, sniffers inhale at frequent but irregular intervals. This makes them the library equivalent of the Chinese torture method where water is sporadically dripped on a victim’s face, driving them steadily insane. Unlike Lodgers, the Sniffer population peaks in the first term, when half the student body is laid low with Freshers’ Flu. Ear plugs and surgical masks are a must in the period from September to Christmas.
- The Lightweight. This student fails to set foot in the library until two weeks before their exams, but makes their presence known when they do. Food rustling, coffee drinking and noisy procrastination are among their favourite pastimes. On the plus side, the tinny base throbbing from their headphones just about muffles the violent sniffing of their neighbour, who never quite recovered from Freshers’ Flu.
- The Scientist. This is a rare breed of library-goer. Every two months or so, a reported sighting of a strange figure wearing a lab coat will emerge. Bewilderment and mild surprise are common traits of the Scientist. If seen, approach with caution and escort them quickly to the nearest exit. They will undoubtedly have entered the library by mistake (or chemically induced confusion) having got lost on the way to the computer room.