Awkward Moments in the Library

The library is a fantastic facility and one of the reasons Northumbria is such a brilliant university. With nine floors, 24-hour access, 50,000 journals and over half a million books, there is a wealth of knowledge just waiting for an eager student to digest. Quite possibly everything you could ever need to know on any given topic available there. For example, typing in a random word, such as “albatross”, will reveal thousands of results to plough through (16,714 to be precise).

Regardless of its incredible capacity for helping students, the library is often regarded with contempt and fear. This is because the library is seen as the place where social lives go to die, where night outs with friends are replaced with nights in with books. There will not be a single student on campus that will be able to say that they have never spent at least one night stuck in the library, cramming for an exam or writing a hand-in for the following morning. If there is someone who hasn’t, they’re either not working hard enough, impossibly organised, or lying.

When you coop up hundreds of stressed and tired students in one building, there will undoubtedly be some awkward situations. Sometimes, the embarrassment can happen before you’re even in the library. Trying to persuade librarians to let you in without uni ID can be troublesome, speaking from first-hand experience. A friend of mine managed to get into the library without ID but when they tried to leave in the early hours, the staff who let him in had gone home, so he had to face the wrath of the night-staff and had to do an awful lot of grovelling to persuade them that he hadn’t broken into our library to abuse our facilities.

Easily the most frequent awkward situation is wandering into the library with the expectation to get a good amount of work done to find no more computers. This can be made more irritating if you only go to the library to print off a few essential documents. When this unfortunate situation occurs, the only option is to hover round the floor you’re on like an academic vulture and hope someone gives in and leaves a computer for you to scavenge.

Once you’re seated, that does not mean you’re safe. Not only will you actually have to do work, you will be stuck with hundreds of cranky students who are probably fuelled by snacks and pro-pluses. I am undoubtedly the worst person to be sitting next to, as my revision snacks of choice are sultanas and olives, which tend to result in quite a stench. So if you see a scruffy haired law student munching on dried fruit and other exotic snacks, it may be best to give me a wide berth.

Playing music can come as either a blessing or a curse. Personally, I cannot leave the house unless I have my headphones playing so loud they could drown out an earthquake. Without them, I refuse to work. Although music helps me escape people talking to me, I can’t help but feel that they must be talking about me, or maybe that’s my ego.  Also, sometimes, I need to be careful to only indulge in guilty pleasures, such as Taylor Swift, when it’s safe.

However, the most awkward situation of all could be being immortalised by the Facebook phenomenon that is Spotted. All I can say is try to avoid making a spectacle of yourself. Unless you want be a notorious attention-seeker, then feel free.

So, here are some tips to help you though the long hours of work and make sure you avoid those horribly awkward situations.


Dress appropriately: Don’t forget, you could be there for a while and you’re there to work, not pull – so dress comfortably. I’ve seen people in glamorous faux-fur coats visit the library when it’s been raining; they didn’t looked cool, they looked like drowned Labradors.

Make sure you have everything you need: Make sure you have all your books, notes, pens, paper, music, Northumbria ID and anything else you think you’ll need to get you through the night. Emergency chocolate always helps.

Take a wingman: Working with a friend who is equally stressed can often be a comfort and can help pass the hours.

Be careful with caffeine and don’t overdo it: Pro-Plus and strong coffee can lead to a spurt of productivity but too much can be bad for your health and can also mess up your sleeping pattern, which is a definite no-no.

Simply Print: If you just need to print something off, then look up Simply Print, which allows you to print from your laptop and not worry about finding a printer.

Try not to end up Spotted: Enough said.