The library stampede

McGill Tribune

The Library Stampede kicks off when you wake up. After slamming your alarm clock you stumble groggily from bed, glaring around the room, daring anything or anyone to mention something about good sleep leading to good grades. The glorious image of an open, spacious library spot—plug-in included—begins to form. Interlocking, pulsing neurons, teeming with memorized information, mould the picture of oneself strolling through those library doors after a peaceful night’s rest. A librarian nods smilingly on the left as the elevator doors open on the right. Step into it, and you’re carried to a floor where your clean desk awaits. Open windows frame your work with leafy views of campus while the surrounding books stand like encouraging guardians of your intake of knowledge.

Oh, if only. Before this picture can become solidified in your mind, the smart, calculating side of you—the side that got you here in the first place—starts to take control. It takes the montage of tranquil study time and screws with it, unapologetically inserting the realities of what this library spot will actually look like. Pages are strewn everywhere. Cold War-era grey walls encircle windows through which you have to squint to glimpse a square foot of green grass. And every five seconds some punk is trying to move the electronically controlled book stack, leading to a sharp, high-pitched, gonna-kill-something-if-I-hear-it-again beep.

Halfway to school, you realize you left your laptop charger at home. Consciously trying to suppress profanity as you run, you hear the clock slowly clicking down. If you’re lucky enough to reach the library before the doors open, then you’re unlucky enough to sit in sheer academic tension till they do. Students line the walls awaiting the rush. A foot taps anxiously here, a pen is clicked constantly there. And then it happens. The security guard mutters something into a wireless radio, eyes scan the area, and the doors are opened.  

The next moment is key: as students fly by, swinging bags, fists or both, do you take the elevator up to the best spots or do you book it up the stairs? There is no right answer. It all depends on the collective psyche, wind pressure, humidity, subject of study, and many other incalculable factors that change with the day. You’ll have to take it as it comes. However, to avoid the small-but-horrific risk of being stuck in the elevator, I suggest you duck your head, clutch your belongings to your chest, and sprint up the stairs, voicing a constant Braveheart-esque war cry all the way.

In my time here, I have found my fellow McGill students to be mostly friendly in conversation and selfless in deeds. Not in the library. The best spots are fair game. And so be it—few things promote studying as much as sitting comfortably in a spot you arduously fought for. If you have an issue with this, be vocal about it. There are political voices galore on campus that would be ecstatic to take up the “A LIBRARY SPOT IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE” cause. Until then, get up early, get up strong, and get on top of those library doors before the break of dawn.

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