A tribute to the library

David EideOpinion Columnist

As my time at Gustavus winds down, I’ve been thinking a lot about the various buildings I’ve spent time in and which one could be considered my favorite. There’s a lot of competition: I did spend much of my time in my sophomore year studying at Beck and New Nobel is quite fancy but when it comes down to it, I’d have to pick the library as my favorite. I’ve written in the past about my generalized love for libraries – and our library in particular – but I think a specific exploration of the various reasons why I love it is in order, especially considering the library is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

To start, the library has some of my favorite study locations on the entire campus. The single-person rows of desks along the windows have always been my go-to place for when I’m in between classes for an hour or so and need to crank out some assignment. On the other hand, when I need to buckle down and work on a major assignment, the first places I head to are the individual study spaces in the back of the library, which offer an isolated location where it’s possible to devote your focus to the task at hand. During COVID and distance learning, the individual study spaces were where I attended many of my Zoom courses as I found it a lot easier to concentrate in them compared to my room or some other public space. The fact is that the library is one of the few places on campus where you can be guaranteed peace and quiet while you work, which I greatly appreciate as someone who has often struggled with being easily distracted by background noise.

The library is more than just an excellent study space; it also contains some of the most fascinating pieces of history on campus. For example, there is the rare books collection which contains a multitude of old manuscripts that the college has collected over time along with some other minor artifacts of Swedish heritage. Unlike a lot of other similar collections in other colleges, our collection room is freely accessible to the public due to the locked cabinets which protect the books from potential theft. As a result, the collection room is another one of my favorite study locations in the building, specifically for when I have long readings as I feel like being surrounded by rare books improves the vibe of what can otherwise be a slog. 

I could not discuss my favorite parts of the library without also discussing the College archives on the third floor. The archives do a lot of great work that I sometimes think goes unappreciated by the general public. The archivists are constantly working to ensure that historical documents and materials from the college’s past are preserved and made available for interested parties. I have gotten a lot of use out of the online material produced by the archives such as the digitized versions of the yearbook or even of this very newspaper. To me, such archived materials serve as a reminder of the continuity of college life, I am attending the same institution as the people who worked on the 1930 edition of the Gustavian, which is a crazy thought to me. 

Of course, I would be remiss to discuss why I love a particular library without also discussing the actual function it’s intended to provide. When I’ve been working on major projects and have struggled to find the sources that I need, it is to the library that I turn. There have been many times when I’ve found a book or article that would be useful for a paper that I’m writing but it’s either locked behind a paywall or not in the library’s collection. Luckily, however, the library has always come through for me with interlibrary loans and helped me gain access to the materials I need. On top of all that, I just love to peruse the general collection of our library as there are just so many fascinating books just sitting on the shelves, waiting to be read. No matter what subject you’re interested in, the library probably has some material regarding it, even if it’s the most obscure topic you can think of. 

In short, I really love the library. I go there even when I don’t have anything to do just to enjoy the atmosphere. I’m going to truly miss the library once I graduate as even though I have a decent library back home, it just can’t quite compare to what we have here at Gustavus. Still, I’m glad that I got to experience it and I hope that Gusties in the future will enjoy the library – just as I have during these four years.

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