Libraries- Tom Stevenson
There is something clearly wrong with a hundred people sitting silently in a room the size of a banquet hall. Of course, there’s stage whispers, the pitter-patter of keyboards and those geography students with scratchy felt tips, but the people come there for silence. Sometimes books. The point is that at university you are inundated with opportunities to socialise, but in university you are isolated. Just because you come to the library, and work near or next to a friend, does not mean that you combine your mental resources to productive effect at all. Even group presentations are ciphered off into distinct personal sound bytes that require almost no cooperation. Seminar discussions filter through the tutor. No one writes down each other’s points and some ‘peers’ never speak. But the eerie silence of a library is the most forceful reminder of the isolated character of higher education. The next time a prospective employer asks me whether I can work in a team, I’ll tell them I can socialise, but the only team-mate I’ve had over the past three years is a computer called Macintosh. And he prefers watching porn anyway.