The books have eyes

The library is possibly one of the most iconic building on all of Maynooth’s campus. Many students over the years have spent many hours on end inside the library, doing some last minute cramming or essay work. The library is a source of wonder, stress, delight and many other emotions that students experience over the year. I believe that is part of the reason why the library has seen the start – and end – of many relationships between students.

I recall that on orientation week, you are escorted around South Campus by an orientation leader while they attempt to tell you about the magical qualities of the area – mainly Pugin Hall and how it contains links to Hogwarts. Whether that’s true or not, it’s an interesting concept to entertain. However, for me personally I was most enthralled by the library. As an avid reader, the library sounded like a dream. Places to chill out in beanbag, a vast array of books to check out and the all-important source of caffeine available on the ground floor? Sign me up! How wrong I was though.

It’s not necessarily that I dislike the library, I’ve just gradually realised that the area is more of a social hub in many respects. Beginning with the entrance, you may be greeted by the scent of many rollies being smoked by the entrance. The chance of you meeting this scene increases tenfold when it comes to exam season and you will often see groups of estranged students, practically huddling together for unspoken moral support. Nothing brings students together quite like the common feeling of dread.

Once you make your way inside the library, you come across a bustling vibe filled with people who are moving within and around the black couches to your left, the ever-busy computers to your right and, of course, the beanbag room. The beanbag room is notorious for all of the activities that occur within that some people may describe as ‘unsightly and the height of social interactions’. An important thing to note with the evenings getting darker sooner is that the dark causes the reflection of the windows to be visible to all so even if you are behind a beanbag and getting ‘It’ on, you can be very easily spotted in the reflection by anyone who is unlucky enough to cast their glance in the back right area of the room. To those that choose to get frisky in that room, I’d personally like to remind you to use protection and remember – consent is mandatory. Of course, that’s not the only thing that happens in the beanbag room. In my time here in MU, I’ve seen many friends meet up there to do group work or simply to not feel as alone when doing your own work. That in itself is amazing to me, there’s nothing better than seeing the friendships that are present and the dynamics of each one. The beanbag room is so important for that reason, I think. Friends who support one another’s work ethics and work together are so important.

In the upper floors, not as much interactions occur on account of the fact that silence is required but that doesn’t mean that these areas are lacking all social activities. On the second floor by the computers towards the back left corner, I’ve often spotted people who may not know one another but if they catch one another’s eyes, there’s a moment of silent support and a friendly nod or look that goes on. Almost as if they’re encouraging one another to keep going. This encouragement is so endearing and a symbol of how positive such actions can be. Such things should be taken seriously as there are many studies that backup that working with others and supporting people do the world of good and benefits you socially and your mental health.

An honourable mention also has to be made for the role that social media plays in the social aspects of the library. Facebook pages like Spotted in NUIM Library and the hook-up aspect of Yik Yak make the library a bit of a laugh to be in, from time to time. I think Snapchat highlights how key the library is best as, after all, we have an entire filter dedicated to South Campus and you can clearly make out the library. If for nothing else, the aesthetic is pleasing to the eye.