Need A Place To Study . . . In Silence?

There is a new dimension beyond those known to U of T students. It is a dimension of sight and mind, but without sound. A wondrous land of study and contemplation. It is an area called The Silent Zone.
This was essay week for me. I work well at Robarts Library, so I packed up my things and headed off to the big ol’ turkey. It think it’s the altitude, like working on top of a mountain. Anyway, when I got there I saw a notice on the wall promoting these new Silent Zones. Of course, I had to check them out.
There are a few different Silent Zones at Robarts Library. I visited each one to get the full experience. The first one is the Reading Room on the second floor, and I’ll admit I was surprised when I first walked in . . . It was quiet. It was also pretty big. And it was packed. I had never been to the Robarts’ Reading Room before, but at 4pm on Wednesday it was a popular place to be. I stayed only for a few minutes, mostly to scope out the vibe.
The second floor Reading Room is designed for studying. Three rows of single person study-cubbies fill the middle of the room, with lots of four-seater tables set along the walls and across the windows. Each of the four-seater tables has a power plug built into the middle of it, which is pretty great for computers, tablets, phones (on silent!), and anything else, so you'll always have power!
There is another Silent Zone on the third floor, in the Reading Room, right above the second floor with an overlooking balcony. I liked this room more than the last. There are three tall, bright windows in the corner that look out over St. George St., giving the whole room a good open feeling, like you could really work undisturbed and comfortable. And the only sound was the occasional . . .
Then there was the Computer Lab on the fourth floor. Another place at U of T I had never visited. It’s a fairly small room, but there are a lot of computers, and the walls are made of glass. Was it silent? No, not really. There was an instructor preparing to teach a class on one half of the room. But it was okay. It was like most computer labs . . .
I got up to the 9th to 13th floors, and I was beginning to doubt the integrity of these Silent Zones. The 9th floor was already pretty quiet. How much less noise could people make? But as I rounded the corner towards the Harbord Apex and the designated Silent Zone, I all at once noticed a strange noise fill my ears. It was sudden and overwhelming . . . Silence. Yes, I kid you not. The Harbord Apex of the ninth floor of Robarts was utterly silent. There were students working and studying, but I couldn’t even hear the keyboards. The only sound was the gentle hum of the ventilation, which might easily have been a calming breeze. Truly, I was on top of a mountain. It was nice. And I wrote my whole essay in a few hours. So, if you are walking around in Robarts Library, and you happen to feel a stilling sensation fill your ears, a sudden sense that you’re standing on top of a mountain, then you may have just entered a Silent Zone. ‘Til next time, stay diamond, U of T! - Stephen.

1 comment on “Need A Place To Study . . . In Silence?

  1. >> is pretty great for computers, tablets, phones (on silent!), and anything else…

    In my experience, phones are less and less switched on silent in the libraries. I am one of the few who need perfect silence when I read or study. I tried to talk to some people about that and what they say is that they would like to put their phone on silent when they enter the library, but they are afraid of forgetting to turn the ringer back on when they leave. I think that an auto silent mode based on location (and not on time) like Vpasana could help, but it is not very popular yet. Maybe librarians should be more proactive in that regard.

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