How to Survive the Library

When eagerly typing away at my UCAS application form for a multitude of different Universities and a random array of degrees (zoology anyone?) I have to say, my mind was perhaps less on the books and more on the endless amounts of going out/drinking/hooliganism which seems to be the popular stereotype of the University student life given by many teachers/parents and disillusioned adults.  My Freshers year did not disappoint and I certainly spent more time in clubs than I did lectures, however, third year has now beckoned and I spend more hours than I care to count lugging around a copious amount of hardback books by historians whose surnames I cannot pronounce.  As exams and dissertation deadlines approach, the library is the new place to be.  Discussing what work we’re going to do has taken over wildly discussing what outfits we’re going to wear and what pre-drinks we’re going to go to.  I’m perhaps exaggerating here, we do still enjoy nights out, but they are then succeeded by a days worth of regret where we’re all fully aware that the amount of work we’ve missed out on because of a hangover will only loom over us tomorrow.

Through my extensive experience of the University of Reading’s library, I have come up with a sort of guide of library etiquette and life for prospective students who are currently eagerly awaiting their A Level exams and madly revising to get into their desired university course.  Take note:

– My uni library is about 200 times bigger than my one back at home (I do live on Guernsey though) so if you’re keen not to get lost and possibly spend the end of your days in the chemistry section then take a quick half hour library lesson which will be offered to you in your Freshers Fortnight.  These are boring but could potentially be lifesaving.  

– In your first year at uni you will be given a lot of assignments to simultaneously juggle, however, for the sake of your own life, do not loudly complain about your workload infront of a third year whose only 100 words into their essay – you may fall victim to a burntout student.

– Making unadvisable financial decisions happens to every single one of us.  A week spent in the library will impact your bank balance significantly.  Tickets to see One Direction? Yep. Chico’s complete collection of songs?  Of course.  eBay purchased tshirt with Keith Lemon’s face on it?  Why not?! 

– A friend making a passing reference to Nandos/the Fair/River Island’s sale/Alton Towers/New Zealand will result in you being there an hour later.  It happens.  

– The library is possibly not the best place to have a nap – you will find a picture of yourself dribbling on your books being circulated on a Facebook page built to embarrass those who have fallen foul of the library.

– If you discuss your boyfriend troubles in the library you will find people eavesdropping and they will be recounting the story later to their friends.  Beware.  

– Throughout your university career you will find yourself giving nicknames to people who you don’t know, but frequent the computer room e.g. Running Girl

– Spending more than 5 hours straight in the lib is probably detrimental to your health.  When you find yourself enthusiastically humming along to any 5ive song while obsessively googling all of the girls from Teen Mom then you should probably have a break.

– You will sample every single food outlet on campus – sign up to the gym ASAP. If you’re campus has pick a mix then you’re definitely in danger.

– Power sockets are like gold dust in the library so guard it with your life.

– Unfortunately uni libraries are not like those in Hogwarts and you cannot simply shout ACCIO BOOK to find that pesky Tolstoy novel.  Get a friend to show you how to find books/journals/periodicals, then treat it like a game of hide and seek.

– You will see a multitude of weird things in the library – people drinking 4 pints of milk, someone flat out snoring whilst another person lights up a cigarette on the third floor, a group of giggling girls drinking vodka before heading to the Union and even an adventurous couple trying to have an intimate moment in a private study area.  Be prepared.

– It’s your first term at Uni and you’re desperate to impress, but wearing 7 inch heels to the library won’t give you the best reputation.  Swap your Loubs for some Nike Blazers and that catsuit for some American Apparel leggings.   

– Hysterically laughing at a funny cat video in a quiet area of the lib will annoy other people, but do it anyway, you rebel.

– Yes, everyone can tell you have a hangover. 

– Watching soft porn in the library probably isn’t the best idea, even if it is for your Art course.

– Smuggling food into the library will end up becoming like a military operation.  Also you will get told off multiple times but will never learn, we all have our vices.  

– PDA in the library is 99% of the time cringey.

– The library has its own microclimate, so if it’s boiling outside and you’re wearing nothing but a string bikini, you may want to pack a Christmas jumper if you’re going to spend your day inside.

– Getting out every single book on your courses reading list will get you a few enemies and someone will call you out on it in a lecture – I’ve seen it happen and it was awkward.  

– You will google things you hadn’t even imagined in your wildest dreams.  Procrastination is the biggest enemy of a keen library goer.  I spent my mornings surveying a mix of the DailyMail, Topshop, Zara, Net-a-Porters, Selfridges, Easyjet (I planned a full trip to Marrakech today, hotels, day trips and all), SeeTickets, ASOS (for his and hers), Amazon, and the list goes on and on.  

– You’ll be able to add Funny Cats Video Expert on your CV post degree.

– Yes you’re now a sophisticated university student but you’ll still find yourself sniggering at artistic naked portraits of people in old books.  You’re not quite an adult yet.

In all honesty, I’m pretty jealous of all the 18 year olds who still have the excitement of Freshers year to come!  Make the most of it while you can!


  1. e said:

    Haha. I’m at Reading and I know the true identity of Running Girl.

    • jkayre said:

      I think she left like three years ago now, is there a new one?!

  2. e said:

    She graduated but I know her bc she continued to attend one of the societies 🙂

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