January 25, 2011

Sick of the Music Blaster? Meet the Library Personalities

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Panic swept the first floor of Olin Library Monday as students returned from break to a drastic change: a renovation of the floor’s left side. The temporary unavailability of these first floor desks alarmed many students, and librarians were flooded with questions about the renovation’s all day. Loyal Olin first-floor lovers have no fear; the section will be ready for use by next week. With over 15 libraries on campus to choose from, the concern over one small missing area seems unjustified. However, the reality for Cornell’s library-going population is that each library, and even specific rooms within each, has its own defining characteristics and caters to different needs of the students that use them. It’s not about which books they carry or which quad they are on: each library has its own character. Take Mann Library, for instance. You are always able to find a seat somewhere in this incredibly expansive building with its high ceilings and large windows. The café, Manndibles, serves local and sustainable products and promotes concern for the environment with their compostable plates, cups and cutlery. The baristas will personalize your drink with artistic foam designs, and not a week goes by without one club or another holding a bake sale in the lobby. By contrast, Olin has fairly limited seating (especially if you are unwilling to venture to the stacks), and the selection in Libe Café is mostly of the Fresh Take variety. These differences between the two coincide with the preferences and personalities of those who visit each. You see, not all library goers are the same. Some prefer to sit in the Uris stacks by themselves, while others can only work in Olin’s main room where they are able to people watch. Some need to secure that perfect seat in Libe Café where they can take study breaks to chat and eat with friends, while others search for the perfect corner where they can hide out and sneak their own CTB sandwiches before library personnel come around to tell them to throw it out. Whichever of these preferences applies to you, it takes skill to secure that ideal study location.

Below we’ve identified some profiles of the most experienced and strategic library visitors to help you find that perfect spot or gain a heightened awareness of the lengths others will go to do so. Use them as you wish …

The Library Lurker

There you are in the Kinkeldey Room, all finished with your problem set. You close your laptop, look around and there he is. The shadowy figure, who immediately notices the jerk of someone’s hand putting away a notebook, the rustling of a jacket or the sound of a computer charger being unplugged. Each is a sure sign that someone is about to leave a prized desk. The lurker has finely tuned ears and eyes — a sixth sense, if you will — and before you know it, even though you wanted to leave in the first place, you somehow feel rushed, subtly pressured to get up as fast as possible. Even worse, lurkers are common and there is much competition among them. Timing is key.

The Opportunist

This manipulative library visitor may be referred to as a player. A seasoned veteran, in advance of knowing he will need to secure prime real estate later on, he will text friends already studying at Nestlé, Catherwood and Carpentor, gathering as much information as possible to make a well-informed decision on his study location of the evening. If one or all of these options falls through, this library slut will get desperate and may instead choose to contact …

The Seat Saver

This breed of library guest is generous, relatively speaking. She hopes not only to secure a seat for herself, but also places an object, usually no more notable than a folder or pencil case in a spot she is reserving for a friend. The Seat Saver does so because both she and her friend know that competition is fierce and an open, quality seat can be few and far between.

The Floater

The Floater fully appreciates how rare an ideal seat can be. He is unwilling to give up his study spot, even for an extended break during lunch or dinner (or, for the more brazen, a mid-afternoon final exam when seats are in high demand). The Floater lays it all on the line — computer, phone, and other expensive possessions — and he pulls the ultimate library power move: The Fakeout. Seat Savers beware! That unoccupied chair is not up for grabs. The Floater, thereby, is enemy to all of the above seat hunters, foiling their well-laid plans.

The Great Switch and Switchers

Readers, you’re welcome. The Great Switch is a true favorite move of ours that we have chosen to share with you. The way it works is as follows: you are seated in A.D. White in that perfect spot, with an outlet and the view — you know which we’re referring to. You’re in touch with a friend whose arrival at Uris just so happens to coincide with your departure. Rather than prematurely vacate your spot, even though you’re all done with tomorrow’s reading, you decide to wait until your accomplice is ready to pull the switch.

Before the Lurker’s well-trained senses even have a shot, your friend is safely occupying the chair, the spot never having gone on the market.Extreme as these measures may seem (we hope we haven’t creeped you out too much), the Cornell student is prepared to go to great lengths to secure a spot at their favorite library location. Of course, the above examples aren’t the only library personalities and moves that occur — just think about the girl sitting next to you whose earphones might as well be your own, those occupying a coveted desk just to watch a movie (for leisure!), or the incessant cougher who refuses to get up for water. All in a day’s work though, right? This semester, employ these tactics at your own discretion, as you search for that undiscovered room, cozy nook or your perfect spot. Happy hunting!

Jane Mermel is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at jmermel@cornellsun.com. Hilary Oran is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She may be reached at horan@cornellsun.com. The Short Hand appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Hilary Oran