Privacy and serendipity

I am trying to do two new things at the moment: lose weight and write a research proposal that will hopefully end up being a PhD. (As well as work, bring up my son and fulfill my duties as a Swans member). I sometimes  feel I need to choose between the two things (the ones outside the brackets). I seem to find it difficult to concentrate on personal goals simultaneously, quite possibly because I have a tendency to obsess.

Lately I have found that I am planning without finding time to carry out these plans. The ideas are there but I am not following through. It’s a problem I’ve had for years and I usually put it down to procrastination. It’s no doubt possible to cram more into my day, I just need to trim some fat.

Today I decided I would use my lunch time to write instead of doing my usual trip to they gym. I prioritised research when I have been prioritising trimming the, er, fat. I would go to the library and write solidly for 45 minutes. I would take only my notebook, a pen and my phone. No iPad.

Lunch time came and I was secretly glad I wasn’t going to the gym. I went downstairs to the Sci Tech library and as I walked in I immediately noticed the low level hubbub. Noise.

I walked towards the back of the library where I knew there were the desks that looked the most quiet and there were people sitting on floors and perched against shelves. I realised I might not get a seat. I wanted to sit under one of the desk lamps they have set up back there, even if I was sharing a bench with tens of others. That bit of the library is dug into the ground below City Rd and the lights come into their own.

There was no space, not even on the shared tables that seemed to be everywhere. There was a man eating tuna from a can. I left. I knew I wouldn’t work back at my desk so I went over to Fisher. The stack. They have those wooden desks that sit jammed up against the shelves. That is what I need. Quiet.


In Fisher the ‘security’ desk between the exit and entrance doors was gone. The check out desks were gone. I am not ashamed to say I felt disoriented. I checked the library map opposite the lifts. Study areas seem to be marked out now, some are ‘quiet study’ and some are ‘study’. That must mean wooden desks.

I went to the level where it said ‘quiet study’ could be found. The walls and ceiling had been painted, and it looked like the shelves had been reduced. There was more space. And less wooden desks. I couldn’t find one free.

Up another two levels to level 6. Turn right out of the lift expecting to hit a bank of shelves and there are none. Just tables set out, like a restaurant, filled with students studying. At my age, one doesn’t want to sit at a table with strangers and study. I saw a vacant wooden desk across the room, beyond the shelves that were still there and I ran to it, apparently forgetting the sciatica that prevents me from jogging at any cost.quiet

I tried to read. Honestly. I tried to write. But there was just so much noise.

Today I learned:

  • I am going into this project with an idea of what a library is that is not necessarily shared by many others
  • I think serendipity in the shelves is good thing. The only people I saw in the shelves today were shelvers and a woman who was obviously an arts student.
  • There is a level of privacy that I naturally seek when trying to research/study.
  • Libraries don’t afford the privacy they used to and this seems ok with most students.
  • I’m going to have reassess my approach.



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