Library survival guide

Source: Stuart Butterfield via Flickr.

By Charlotte Gehrke

Easter Recess is near and with it panic about finals and essay deadlines finds its way back into student’s heads. For most of us, the first step in combating this anxiety starts not with the learning process itself but with finding the right place to study – in most cases, namely the library.

While Cardiff University itself lists 16 libraries of its own, there are also several public libraries in the city of Cardiff, the most prominent of which is Cardiff Central Library.

The question of what library to go to is the first challenge that can be mastered by testing out various seats in a number of libraries at different times of day or night to see what works best for you. Moreover, while you might feel prone to choosing the library associated with your degree, which most likely has the majority of books that you might need at its disposal, there is an argument to be made about choosing a ‘foreign’ library. This choice can be tied to anything from trivial facts such as opening hours (the Arts and Social Studies Library (ASSL) is open 24/7) to individual preferences, such as flair, smell, quality of vending machines, etc.

When choosing a study setting, you might also want to factor in how easily you can be distracted by others and work or study in groups since you are more likely to meet people from your own course in your subject library. In addition, some libraries are equipped with group study rooms which you can reserve online. Furthermore, having people around you who are studying similar or possibly even the same materials also enables you to ask for advice or guidance. Likewise, on the more security-announcement-at-the-train-station/airport note, having people whom you trust around also comes in handy when looking for someone to watch your valuables while you’re off to the bathroom or coffee machine.

Additionally, in order to make the most out of your time at the library you should also consider when you are the most functional throughout the day. If you’re someone who can work best during the day, you will most likely have the most access to libraries, resources and assistance staff. However, if you’re more of a night owl, do not despair – many of the libraries are open late or don’t close at all and you will never be alone since there are always students, librarians, or security guards around.

Nevertheless, while some might appreciate not being confronted with the horror movie scenario of being alone in an empty library, having company also means having noise around. Hence, it’s always a good idea to bring a set of earplugs and some headphones, be it to drown out the background noise or to produce some of your own without disturbing others.

Furthermore, especially if you are planning on working for an extended period of time, comfortable clothing is recommended (at 2am, nobody in the library will mind what you wear, including Bob from security). It will also allow you to sit in a comfortable position enabling you to stay focused – sometimes a brief walk through the woodland of bookshelves or even a little exercise can also help to battle exhaustion.

Finally, a word to the wise: As much as most of us hope for the scientists who invented space ice-cream to make this happen – coffee is not a food group (yet). So, make sure you bring some (healthy) snacks and non-caffeinated beverages with you and keep track of your coffee-intake.

Good luck and in the spirit of the Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 international disco hit: you will survive!

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