How to Not be an Arsehole in the Library

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M.K Smith

I have a friend who has a panic attack every time they enter the Macquarie University library. If this sounds extreme to you, you’ve probably never set foot in there.

To put it diplomatically, the library sucks. I should clarify by saying that the BUILDING itself doesn’t suck (though I still find the design exceptionally confusing), but when there are masses of people involved, there are masses of problems.

According to 2012’s statistics, there are 38,747 students enrolled at Macquarie University. Even after the subtraction of external students (and other people who just don’t bother to come to class) this still leaves a significant amount of people who are probably going to utilise the library at some point during their degree.

Despite the upgrade in services since the new library has opened (replacing the old bomb-shelter library), something about this communal space turns students into desperate garbage monsters. Want a computer during lunchtime? Don’t make me laugh. Need a table for a group assignment? Forget about it, that girl with a Macbook Air has already spread the contents of her handbag around the ergonomic round table, effectively marking her territory. Feel like printing your assignment off from the print station ten minutes it’s due? You can’t, a first year is printing off an entire slide show and they WILL forget how to use their card. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of exam time. I’m not mentally prepared to go there right now.

“But M.K”, I hear you sigh, “what can we do about this mess?!” I’ve got you covered, fellow student. Let’s all hold hands and heed my life’s motto, ‘Don’t be an arsehole’. Here is a quick guide to being a decent human in the library, taken from my 100,000 word manifesto. With any luck, this will be compulsory reading for next semester.

1. Keep your bodily functions in check. I understand that it’s not always easy to keep your body on lock down, the body’s gotta do what it’s gotta do. But for God’s sake MQ students, can we at least try to have some social decorum? DO place footwear on your feet; nobody wants to see your cracked and calloused heels. DO keep your burping and farting to yourself, or at least on the lowdown. DO wash your hands after you’ve finished in the bathroom (I know that the recycled water is always confrontational, but don’t be so shocked by the brown water that you forget to use soap and water). DO have tissues if you have to blow your nose, toilet paper will do the job nicely if you’re unprepared. If you sniffle constantly, I’m pretty sure that murder and passive aggression become legal. DO wear deodorant because it’s bad enough that we’re stuck in a musty sarcophagus trying to study, please don’t let your armpits activate our gag reflexes at the same time.

2. Don’t be a hog. Need a chair? Well then take one chair! You don’t need three. You also don’t need to sit at a computer with a screen visible to people waiting in line, especially if you’re just going to scroll through catchoftheday.com. Dear Girl Browsing Through Deals On Oven Mitts When I Really Needed Your Computer, I still hope you fall in a well.

I think we all know what the most important computer-hogging rule of all is though – do NOT abandon the computer and leave your shit lying out to guard it while you go have lunch or nap with your head on the desk. Cut. It. Out. This problem became so widespread there are actual signs forbidding it. After fifteen minutes of absence, you lose all computer privileges. Now if we weren’t all so afraid of confronting these library losers, then the rule might actually be effective.

3. Shut up. Shut up. I mean it. Shut your damn mouth. If you’re in a quiet space, you are not allowed to open it and talk about your pathetic group project, or about your female lecturer’s tiny moustache. I don’t want to hear about your awkward Brazilian wax. I mean, of course I really do, but not when I’m trying to pretend to learn. If you’re going to text, put your phone on silent. If you’re going to take a call, then LEAVE. We all know it’s your mum wondering where you are anyway.

4. Get your gross food out of here. Eating in the library is fine, but the foods that so many people are eating in the library are not. If your food has a strong odour, please eat it outside. If your food is noisy as hell, please eat it outside. That goes to you, first year M.K digging your hand in a chip packet to shove more sweet chilli and sour cream chips in your gob. You’re a bad person.

5. If you’re wearing a school uniform… Everybody hates you. Sorry kids, but it’s true. Nobody in the outside world gives a hoot about the HSC, all they care about is your underage butts taking up a seat that they’re coveting. There are a lot of other desks in this city that you can plonk your Maths Extension homework on. Just don’t be surprised when you’re greeted with a sea of grimaces as you saunter into the library.

Do we all feel like better people yet (and by better I mean I feel like a classic case of first world problems mixed with a heavy dose of pent up frustration)? I know I do. Together, we can make the library a slightly less terrible experience. Together, we can make a difference.

Until next time Grapeshot readers: Don’t be an arsehole.

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