As final exams approach, more students will start spending days and nights at Gelman Library. But, some students might be fitting in more social time than study time at Club Gelman.
Enhanced by the January opening of a Starbucks on the library’s ground floor where a silent study room used to be, the library is as much a study place as it is a social place for some students.
“People look to the library as a place without distractions, but in reality there are so many distractions. It is crowded, people are loud, and there aren’t enough rooms” freshman Christine Lin said.
University Librarian Jack Siggins said he is working with other officials to find space and funding to construct more small-group study rooms in the library. The library has eight floors, including a basement computer lab. Silent and group-study rooms are located only on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors.
Siggins said some students get “rambunctious” and “boisterous,” but the library “depends on the students to control themselves since they are all adults.”
For this reason, Siggins said the library staff does not “police” the facility unless there are complaints. If someone complains, they send one of the staff members to the area.
“We usually ask them to quiet down,” said sophomore Emilie Deans, who has worked at the library for almost two years. “It shuts them up until we leave the room at least.”
Certain times of the week and year, such as Sunday nights and days before midterms and finals, tend to be busier at the library than others.
Some students, however, choose to avoid the library no matter what day it is.
Andrew Degnan, graduate student in the School of Public Health and Health Services, said he goes to the Himmelfarb Medical Library to study. Degnan prefers Himmelfarb because students there tend to be “more respectful to other students.” He added that it is “?ber quiet” throughout the entire library.
Himmelfarb has similar amenities to Gelman Library, such as discussion rooms and computer labs, but is less busy. Students, however, must be affiliated with the School of Public Health or the Medical School to use the library.
Some students also prefer Eckles Library on the Mount Vernon Campus as a quieter alternative to Gelman.
Gelman’s atmosphere is not unique, Siggins said, adding that every academic library he has worked at has a “social environment.”
Joe Michaels, a junior at Georgetown University, said the Lauinger Library on the school’s campus has a similar social atmosphere.
“The library is where people hang out, write papers, talk to each other and get coffee,” Michaels said. “Everybody says they live at the library – it’s just one of these things. Everyone is always on their way to the library.”
Sophomore Nisha Chadha said she alternates between Gelman and tables at the library’s Starbucks to study.
“I think they are both equally social but it depends on what kind of environment you’re going for,” Chadha said. “Gelman can be distracting whether you like it or not because you’ll bump into people you know whereas the Starbucks provides the nice coffeehouse atmosphere that you might want for whatever studying you have to do.”
Despite some students’ complaints that the library is too social, not all students find Gelman to be disruptive. Freshman Amar Rajvanshi said the social atmosphere can help students keep their sanity while studying.
“I think the idea of studying with other people, regardless of where you are, is social,” Rajvanshi said. “However, socializing at the library is just less stressful, granted it might be a less productive way to study.”