The SOAS library is pretty shabby by any standards. The main lobby or entrance is devoid of any natural light and I suspect this is one of the main reasons we have such crabby library staff who consider it an affront if you ask them for individual help. They look at you really funny if you say you can't find a particular volume or would like to check out a book in person rather than using one of those self-check-out machines.
So, my first rage is that there are not enough copies of the core texts. Moreover, there is a considerable gap between what the online catalogue says and what the 'real' bookshelves say. There are times when for the love of God I cannot find the freaking book and make three or fifty four rounds of the same shelf, section, re-shelving sections like a lunatic. That really makes my day.
Then, there is the we-have-rats-so-please-do-not-eat-or-drink in the library. With this law behind them, the security guards go around harassing us poor students trying to cram, sorry study. You will see them making random rounds picking up food items and juice bottles. These are collected and placed like trophies in the open glass office at the entrance of the library for everyone to see. They even check bags of students coming in. I think the security guards actually half enjoy doing this - and mind you they are young kids themselves. Actually, they are janissaries if you ask me, harassing the very people they should be in solidarity with.
What's next? The No-Smiling-In-The-Library-Everyone-Is-Trying-To-Be-Serious-And-Study. Ha, can you imagine these guys going make their regular rounds to make sure no one is smiling and laughing lest it destroy the serious library atmosphere.
The worst is during the weekends or those Bank Holidays when there is not any shop, student union or bar open on campus. Where the heck do we go? And who can study without tea?
When I am at the library I feel like I am traveling - it is like being in a plane or running around at an airport catching your next flight. Your student ID is like your passport: you need it to get in, to get out, to check out books and, to enter the short loan collection room. You constantly need to verify your identity. Then there are the announcements - ding dong, the library shall be closing in the next 2 hours, in the next 1 hour, in the next half hour, in the next 30 minutes, so please pack your belongings and make your way to the exit. It very well could be, please fasten your seat belts, you are in the library, it is going to be a long bumpy night. At least in planes, you get food. It is crappy airplane food, but it is food. Here, they take away your food.
Although I enjoy traveling - in business class - I don't particularly enjoy having to show your passport and boarding pass all the time to security. And, the library reminds me of the unpleasant features of traveling. That's my other big rage.
What else? Noisy eaters! For those who manage to smuggle in food, they choose to gobble it up so everyone can hear. I left the other day because I could not stand the carrot-munching guy next to me. He was munching on his carrot louder than Bugs Bunny. I gave him two dirty looks but that did not embarrass him. Today, it is a jelly-bean popping guy sitting next to me who is really getting on my nerves. He puts a bunch on the table and proceeds to pop them in his mouth - it is like a food-juggling, food-throwing act. It is very visible from the corner of my eye and very annoying. He still has more than half a container to go through.
But it is not all bad. One of the library announcers is a funny guy and tries to be like an entertaining DJ for 20 seconds or so. I always feel like making a song request when he comes on.
And, then there's the socialising that takes place at the library. Let's not forget how much fun that is.
Sitting next to the open windows can also be a pleasure, especially if it is a bright sunny day and you can watch the clouds roll by and enjoy reading about the 'dark side of democracy.' It's like a mental walk in the park.