Why libraries are like swimming pools

My concentration span is ridiculous. Pathetic. Disastrous. My priorities are good, but not good enough – when I’ve got Internet, music becomes my priority, and nothing else. Or writing. Or checking 9gag. I know very well what to do in case I don’t want to work – which is often. I thought it was impossible to change that, until I made a radical decision:

I would go studying in the library.

Now, that was radical. Normally I like to eat and drink whenever I want, or I need music, or… No. I threw all excuses overboard and grew some balls. There I went, straight to the library, where it was bloody warm, but I sat near the window and put my books in front of me. Strangely enough, this actually worked. Or rather, I actually worked. By the time I left the library, I had seen quite a big part of what I still had to see that day. Without a break. I managed to keep on going for four hours straight, only looking up to see what other people were doing. Because, yeah, I still needed to know what was happening around me, you know. These things are important as well.

Then one day, I went to the library, fully prepared – not dressed all too warm because it’s really hot in there, but with a scarf and a big bottle of water. I sat down, put my books in front of me and suddenly felt something weird.

It felt like holiday. It smelt like swimming pools.

It took me a few minutes to figure out what this was. How can studying feel like being on a holiday? This wasn’t meant to be fun at all. So how could I smell swimming pools?

Is this a library?

Then I realized what it was. I don’t know if you, reader, have had the pleasure of going to hotels while on vacation? And if yes, did those hotels have swimming pools? Or did your camping place have one nearby? Because then you might know why I felt this weird way. You know, when you go to a hotel, there are many people you don’t know. In fact, you probably don’t know a single one of them (though sometimes you do – I’ve been there). But after a while, you recognise them and they start to feel so familiar. Even though you haven’t talked with them, it still feels as if they’re some kind of friends, or acquaintances. When it comes to the swimming pool though, you become enemies – everyone wants a good place there. Sometimes people put their towels on a sunlounger in the morning already, so their place is safe for the afternoon. You have to be in time to have a lounger there.

And that’s exactly how the library worked. I couldn’t study at my floor because there was too little space, so I sat in between people I didn’t know. After a while, after a day more precisely, they started feeling familiar. If you weren’t on time though, you might not have a seat where you normally sat.

Very swimming pool.

I like studying in a library. Because there are still people, because it makes you put on nice clothes, because there is barely anything else to pay attention to. Okay, I have to admit I saw every movement around me, and I mostly knew what the others were wearing, but next to that, I would really pay attention to my books. It made me feel better to actually do something. And it smelt like swimming pools. In some twisted way, that made it lighter…

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  1. NotAPunkRocker

     /  February 19, 2014

    Well described!

  2. Library? Swimming pools? You Belgians are flippin’ mad.

    I’m not too keen on the swimming pool area when going on holiday, I tend to get bored and sunburnt. And in a library I wouldn’t be able to follow the Winter Olympics.

    • Oh, and I’d never heard of 9gag until now… what a jolly good place to go to when I’m bored at work…

    • I’m not much of a swimmer either, but I like hotels :).

      Well, I’m currently no longer having finals, thank god, so I’m barely there anymore. Due to classes and work though I’m totally slacking on the Olympics… Anything exciting going on?

      • Um, TeamGB men are through the final for the curling. And Elise Christie, the short track skater who I mentioned getting disqualified the other day, absolutely thrashed everyone in her qualifying heat yesterday. I’ve watched it several times now on the BBC site just so I can bask in her glory.

  3. One year for finals, I lived in the library for about 4 days, having meals at the cafeteria, and showering in the gym lockers.
    Managed to learn a semesters worth of 4 subjects, and write 2 papers while I was there!

    I love a good library.

    • That’s… impressive beyond words. Wow. Seems like the library was your productive place as well :D.

      A good library feels like a second home. Next to everything I mentioned here, I also liked the space I had. My desk at home is crowded, but there – empty tables! Heaven!

  4. I so need to do this. I keep getting distracted by Facebook, the freckle on my forearm or my fridge.

    • Hahaha, yes, I feel your pain! But lirbaries really help with that, believe me. Unless you bring in your computer, fridge or arm. 😉

      But seriously, it it helped me, it will help you as well!

  5. I’ve missed the point but wouldn’t the books get wet? Sorry.

  6. Haha what a lovely comparison 😀 This might be a good idea when I go back to school next year, since I’m a horrible procrastinator…

    • It was the most original one I ever thought of, probably :).
      It surely helped me out, and it made me get up early enough so I would find a free desk there. If it helps me, then it must be good for everyone who’s like me :). Good luck!

  7. Was one of my most favorite spots when I went to university. There was a sunny room where the cubicles were to study. Since we were all studying together, it felt very much like a “group effort” to consume more knowledge. And there were rows of books that represented all the possibilities. Maybe that is what is meant by “diving” into books?

    • Ah yes, it’s very comforting to know everyone is studying! Shared pain. Makes it somewhat less bad.

      And as you say the books surrounding you make it feel better as well! 🙂


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