Imagine all five floors of Robert E. Kennedy Library as they are on a weekday here at Cal Poly, full of students. Next, imagine these hundreds of students in the library at a given time forced to relocate elsewhere on campus — these stressed, perspiring, sleep-deprived students — occupying every lawn, classroom, table, dry segment of concrete step, and chair with armrests on campus for two years.
I’m sure you’ve heard the unfortunate news that Kennedy Library will be closing for renovations for up to two years. This means that we all must find new places to study and therefore reinvent our processes. I will say, their plans for the new building look beautiful and their motives for the renovation are valid; however, for the students such as I who know no way to optimize productivity other than shoving their face in a cubicle on the fourth floor, losing the library is a real bummer.
A few months ago, Eric Greening wrote a letter to the editor addressing questions administration seemed to overlook during the decision to close the library. Yet, as of now, the plan is still very much underway and shows no signs of budging. That is why, students, I write to you with a compilation of potential arrangements to fill the void dear Kennedy’s closure shall create.
Ideally, the University Union would function as an adequate understudy. However, the UU is very limited in both size and functionality; while there are many tables, most are filled early in the day and rarely open. Even more so, few tables are actually within appropriate proximity to outlets — unless you are someone who charges their devices regularly (an admirable but foreign concept to me), the UU may present some obstacles. There are, however, a number of squishy chairs you can sit in, but logistics may become a little complicated if you need to use anything other than a laptop due to your lap being the only surface upon which you can work.
The UU is nowhere near quiet. In fact, I would say it is the complete opposite of quiet. It’s horribly f*cking loud. The sound of Starbucks patrons, silly conversations, and toilets flushing reverberate throughout the building. The volume is sometimes at such a level where it still seeps through the music in your headphones. Stimulation — provocation, even — is unavoidable. However, I will say, they’ve recently begun playing KCPR in the UU again from noon until 5 p.m. every day, which is a major improvement considering the normal soundtrack is whichever Pandora radio station the ASI employee on-duty deems fit. Sometimes, it’s good. Most of the time, it’s not. Either way, the music enhances what the UU is designed to primarily be: a place to meet and engage. Administration did not have a cohesive academic environment in mind when they built the UU — the presence of the two “study rooms” solidify this distinction between a venue made for socializing and a venue made for studying.
If you are someone who has little regard for ambiance, noise, or stimulation whatsoever, perhaps The Ave may be a decent place to get some work done. The horrid yellow tables and the smell of chicken sandwiches may incentivize you to work faster lest you spend an extra second in that hellish den. Ah, or perhaps 805 Kitchen is another good place to study if you have $5 and some extra serotonin to spare. At least there, they have Lucky Charms and a few plants to improve your experience. It will not be quiet, but it will be a place for you to sprawl your computer and textbooks about.
Baker has the potential to be a wonderful space to study if not for its overwhelming lack thereof. There are seating and gathering areas on each floor, but these spots are very limited in functionality as anything other than a place to plunk on a couch and scroll through twitter between classes. There are a few tables sporadically dispersed among the corridors, but these are unreliable options due to their popularity.
Under these circumstances, we may begin to see a large number of students infiltrating closed classrooms and conference rooms in search of a new study spot. Unfortunately, there might not be anywhere as quiet as the fifth floor elsewhere on campus, and to that those who prefer silence must adjust.
Group projects shall become just more awkward (if it were even possible) now that the library cannot be the default meeting location. Try as you may to obtain an area that rivals the fishbowls and group study rooms of the second, third, and fourth floors, but I fear nothing of the likes exists elsewhere on campus.
The library, aside from its primary uses as a hub of all things academia, is a place for people to go between classes. To where shall all the students with awkward gaps in their scheduling go now? When it begins to rain, to where shall the many individuals sprawled on Dexter Lawn seek shelter? The library functions as a wonderful in-between, where students may kill time with friends or get some serious work done between classes. It simply provides a place for students to be when they don’t quite have anywhere else to go.
Think about finals week. The library itself, with its five mighty floors, several hundred tables, and thousands of outlets, is already overcrowded the days approaching and during finals. To disrupt this ritual and displace such a multitude of students would — no, will result in chaos. Aside from the very real spacial issues that arise from the closure, it also will damage campus morale. There is something beautiful about being in the library, looking around you and realizing everyone’s in the same boat as you. When everyone disperses and retreats back to their respective bedrooms to study rather than in a communal space such as the library, this morale will atrophy.