Let’s keep the library a place of quiet reflection

Intellectual progress depends on a variety of elements; passion, curiosity, a sense of urgency, hard work, absorbing knowledge and engaging in discussions, to name a few.

Tekst: Peter A. Christensen

Universities have been built with this in mind, and are separated into various spaces to facilitate the process. Most sacred of spaces is the library. There one can submerge oneself in reading and marvel at the wealth of wisdom and knowledge contained in thousands of volumes in print and online. After reading, one can leave the library hopefully enriched and enlightened, to engage in discussions with other students, as well as professors, in spaces such as the cafeteria, Bodega, the classroom or over beers in town, which will sometimes, but not always, improve the quality of the debate.

However, we must remember that this is a fragile system. I’m a frequent visitor to the KS library, and it is quite possible that the students of the humanities and social sciences are an unruly and corrupted group of people, but still I do wish they could shut up for the duration of their library stay. Quite often the library is not only resounding with unavoidable sounds like footsteps and the opening and closing of doors, but to my horror and frustration also lengthy and loud conversations, phone calls etc.

If one goes to the library to engage in conversations, one fails twice over. Firstly, chatter is a violation of the sacred space of quietude and reflection that is the library. Thus, other students struggling to understand the subtleties of renaissance poetry, or the intricate workings of the human genome, are left frustrated and impoverished, their concentration broken and intellectual progress stunted. Secondly, the chatter is likely to be suboptimal, since entering the library but failing to read anything is an opportunity missed. There is an easy solution to this. If you feel the need to talk to somebody or make a phone call, walk the short distance to the exit of the library where you will find a great space allowing almost unrestricted noise stretching before you.

Let’s rejoice over the many spaces across campus where discussion is possible and indeed encouraged, but keep the library a space of quiet reflection.