If I was a millionaire, I would buy myself a mansion. For now, being the poor little undergrad student that I am, the only mansion I have banked on is the Robarts Mansion – where I invest countless hours in endless study, only in the hopes of one day earning the credentials to make myself a real millionaire with a real mansion. One can dream, right? Robarts Library, otherwise recognized as the concrete peacock that sits proudly on the corner of Harbord and St. George Street, is home to students, faculty and visitors alike. I myself think it more fitting to say that it resembles a turkey instead… Peacocks are associated with vibrant colour and beauty – not something I would associate with the place I study overnight. For the past few weeks I have made this library my second home. I eat here, study here, and yes, now I sometimes fall asleep here. In fact, I am writing this blog right from my study spot at Robarts.
While walking past Robarts the other day on the way for a night out, (not studying, for once!) I couldn’t help but smirk at the poor students trapped within the walls of the library on a Thursday night. I almost felt like barging in to the cafeteria and all the open reading rooms to scream of sweet freedom to all. I turned and asked my friend: “How funny would it be to just blast loud crazy house music and give people the ultimate study break?”
We laughed it off and walked on without giving it another thought. A week later, I came upon an invite to “Party in the Peacock” on Friday, March 4th. The party gods actually listened! That Friday evening, the second floor of Robarts was transformed to a fundraising dance party.
The party boasted art, entertainment and socialization – not your usual mix for a library. Photography was displayed throughout the second floor and music and dancing was provided by DJs. The atmosphere was laid back and there were refreshments as well as a licensed bar.
So what exactly did this fundraising go towards? All proceeds went towards the Robarts Library Revitalization Project in order to expand student space.
At first I didn’t know how to feel about the Robarts revitalization. To be honest, before I started becoming such a frequent library goer, I didn’t really know much about it and always wondered about the construction going on there.
The photographs in the vision of the library show a new study space on the main floors that will be enclosed where the entrance stairs used to be. This proposed construction will be a complete five-story building attachment with about 1200 new study spaces and a Huron street entrance.
I am now convinced that this is a legitimate investment. After the stacks are closed and the library enters its extended hours study period, things get mighty vicious.
Exhibit A: One Sunday night, I was lucky to see someone leaving the Reading Room so I could grab a seat and get started on my readings for the week. Hours later I fight hunger but ultimately decide to walk back home and get dinner. Only seconds after getting up, a student waiting by the wall instantly asked me if my seat is now free. Easy buddy.. I haven’t even packed up yet! Of course I gave him the seat, but see how competitive it can get? On a Sunday night!?!
Trying to find a good study spot during peak hours can be quite the challenge, and you can multiply that challenge if you plan on coming in with a group! People go to great lengths to reserve themselves seats during extended hours.
Exhibit B: Unable to find a seat one day, I was sitting in the noisy cafeteria attempting to do some work when I ran into a friend who was also studying at the library. I asked him if he had found a seat and he said, “Yeah, I already got one saved for me. It helps being here a lot. Faces get familiar. You get to know people.” I was dumbfounded. So was there was a reservation of some sort? He then told me he could get me a seat during a certain hour because a friend of his was going out for a bit and it was on reserve. I would of course have to give up the seat once the friend returned from their break. Again, I was awestruck at this unwritten code and this unknown “tag team” reserve system. Was this for real? He sounded more like a hotel booking agent or a used car sales dealer!
Some go to the extent of getting friends to reserve seats hours before they actually sit down to do any work. Others go through the risk of setting down their bags on an empty seat in order to claim it against potential seat grabbers. Hours later, these seats go unclaimed and all that is left are the jackets and backpacks sitting there while their owner is probably out grabbing food or, sometimes, not even in the vicinity of the building. I usually have to make several rounds in order to find a good seat before I have to trudge along to the cafeteria where most people are found chatting and there is nary an outlet to power up my laptop. Not exactly the ideal study space. This all sounds crazy, but trust me – it happens! It is also not fair. So enough said, this new proposed study space is definitely needed. A “Party in the Peacock” was a great way to raise money to give Robarts Library a new wing.