I am a library troll. All semester I reside among the long shelves of forgotten volumes. My friends know where to find me – on the fourth floor of O’Neill, either basking in the afternoon sun at a desk gazing over Alumni or snuggled between the stacks at row 187 by the extensive collection of French literature. I read and write, write more and read more. Day in and day out. There is serenity in the monotony. Each week the same devotees occupy their special nook, and there is solidarity in our quiet existence. It is a simple life, but it is the way we choose to live.
But a darkness threatens our modest way of life. The plague of finals week draws them out from every corner of campus. On Monday they begin to trickle in, new faces occupying familiar alcoves. By quiet days on Thursday they pour into our sanctuary like an infestation, filling every recess. They spread their books wide, attempting to absorb a semester’s worth of reading.
They munch on crunchy snacks, crackling their chip bags and snapping their gum. They trample around like hikers lost in the woods, weighted down by heavy bags and uttering poorly muffled susurrations to their companions. Obvious in their unfamiliarity, they retrace their steps in search of an elusive desk near an outlet. Ousted from our nests, we patrons of studious solitude wander aimlessly from one viciously populated floor to the next.
For the love of life and library, what can we who dwell here throughout the semester do? Banish them to Brighton campus or Newton? Pack them onto the B line and ship them to BU? Put them on small boats and sail them across the river to Cambridge? There is no hope to defend our way of life.
Should we create a library gold pass? Limited admission based on previous attendance? Or perhaps we should try to help them assimilate, teaching them our customs in the hope that they too may come to value our way of life. Maybe through some miracle of Lamarkian adaptation they will learn to live as we do.
Alas, most will never habituate. For one week, they will devote themselves to the quiet pursuit of knowledge. But they await the day they can leave their self-imposed seclusion. They will never know the glorious stillness of a perfect spot, the soothing embrace of a favorite chair. However come January, harmony will return to the library landscape. We will emerge from exam exile victorious.
Special thanks to Charlie Spencer-Davis for contributing to this article.