A love letter to the Bill Bryson Library

I love the Bill Bryson Library. To many at university, the library might be a place associated with stress, sleeplessness, and boredom. However, strangely I have come to miss the library whilst being on my year abroad and being away from academia for a year. When I come to think of the library I don’t think about the hours and hours of work that I tirelessly spent doing there but the positive memories that make it my favourite space on campus. It is these memories which make me want to appreciate the small things in life and focus on being positive in the present.

I love the hierarchy of the Bill Bryson seating area and all the heated discussions about what part of the library is the best to sit and work in. Of course, there are different purposes to which each level serves such as the discussion area on level one and the computers on level two. However, for those seeking an uninterrupted study session, level three emerges as the undisputed champion. Floor one of the library has too much noise for deep concentration, floor two makes you feel stared at as everyone enters and on floor four you get judged for even breathing too loudly. On floor three, however, there is a collective agreement of quiet study but you can greet a friend or ask a small question to the person next to you without risking death. Floor three also has individual study nooks which are hidden gems if you can snag one before all the best seats are taken. The seating hierarchy is fun because there are so many different study environments compared to the choice of bed or desk in my room.

I love the library café more than any other space in the library. It is an incredible space where I have had some of the strangest and best encounters and chats. So many different people come into the library café. Maybe you bump into that one friend on your course you don’t see anywhere else, you see the one-night stand from last week or even your flatmate who you saw only a few hours ago. Every time I go into the library, I follow the routine of stalking all my friends on Snap Maps to find out who I can convince to grab a coffee with me when I get too distracted or tired to continue my work. During exam revision last year, one of my friends would bring Bananagrams to the library to pass the time. Having that small thing to look forward to such as a break with a friend or your delicious, packed lunch makes the working day much easier. I also appreciate the opportunity to grab a little treat in the café. The price may be extortionate but there is no guilt to snacking in the library because you have already done so much hard work by showing up that you obviously deserve it.

I love the water in the library. It is such a simple pleasure but icy cold water is superior to any other kind. I also find the new machines fascinating as you get to help the environment while you drink more water and the touch free aspect means that I have to do minimal work to get what I want. There has not been a place that I have been more hydrated in than the library. This is honestly because I give myself a five-minute break to go fill up my water bottle when it runs out and who doesn’t want a five-minute break from work. It sounds strange but in first year I appreciated the water even more because there was no freezer in our accommodation so the library was the only place where I could get cold water.

I love the environment of the library. Surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books, the library offers a mental health break from the harsh glow of laptop screens. I find it a much more calming break than scrolling on my phone for five minutes and tiring my eyes. In the winter the library is like a quiet escape from the biting cold outside; it is a free warm space where you don’t have to worry about the cost of heating. What more could you want.

I love the Bill Bryson Library. It is easy for me to say how much I love it now that I am not in Durham and how much I miss it now that I have no university work to do but I think it begs the truth that the positives stay with you much longer than the negatives. I rarely think about the awkwardness of seat hunting or chance encounters I would rather avoid. It is a reminder that sometimes, the small joys embedded within these spaces often labelled as negative have the potential to brighten our experiences and reshape our perspectives of them.



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