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Study spots around Iowa City quickly dwindling

BY CHRIS CLARK | NOVEMBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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I used to hate hearing people complain about the library sucking.

Now, I completely agree.

You could say I’m a flip-flopper, but I don’t think so. Adequate study spots are on the campus’ endangered-species list, and the way things are going doesn’t provide much hope for their preservation. As I write this column, a chain reaction of car alarms is erupting on the street outside of my bedroom window.

Most people I talk to refuse to study at the Main Library because people talk too much, too many of their friends are there to distract them, or they can’t find a place to plug in their computer. Sure, it does get pretty crowded, but there is still no doubt whether students value the library as a crucial utility. There are working printers, so you can get that paper turned in that’s due in your next class.

And there are some decent refreshments to keep you as happy as possible when you’re locked in and studying.

It has its perks.

But since the start of the school year, rows of desks have been evicted and replaced with bookshelf after bookshelf. Tables on both sides of the second floor continue to disappear, and the ability to find a spot to study is growing more difficult. At least university officials installed walls around the group study tables so people who want to be loud don’t distract everyone else.

Officials recently announced a merger between four smaller libraries on campus because of budget cuts. The four libraries are closing because they have the least amount of foot traffic.

In other words, they are the best study spots.

And the closing of these libraries means bad things for the Main Library faithful — such as me — because of some of their contents will be moved there. This, in turn, means more bookshelves and fewer tables. As students have to divert from their study habits, alternative study spots, such as Currier Hall, will surely start crowding.

Where else do administrators expect us to go?

Temporary housing has closed the doors to a number of student-lounge areas. A lot of people go to such places as Java House, but their lights are so dim it’s a struggle just to read a book with fine print. Others seem to be able to find a wide-open table in the hallways of the Seamans Center, but I can’t handle the constant interruption of people walking to class and chatting noisily with their friends about how crazy the bars were over the weekend.

I spent some time last week trying to find a room on campus where I can study in peace without feeling like I’m locked in a small cage. I can’t give away what I think will be my last resort; that would be like inviting your whole neighborhood to your backyard bomb shelter during the Cold War.

What I will do is explain how I plan found my potential spot.

First, walk as far away from the Pentacrest as you can. If there are any good spots to study in those buildings, they are already taken. When you find a building that looks relatively empty, search every floor and every corner for an open room, and don’t forget to locate the nearest bathroom.

And once you find one — if you ever do — blindfold anyone you’re taking with you. If your secret gets out, it will be the death of another rare specimen.

But now it’s getting too cold to be walking to the outskirts of campus with a 20-pound backpack.

And I’m starting to worry that I may have no other choice but to study while listening to a chorus of car alarms outside my window.


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