Tutorial: how to own your square metre of library
Even when you’re not in it.
That dilemma — a two hour break in the middle of a day that’s full of contact hours, and (ever since your decision to be general arsehole) no friends to spend it with.
Fifteen minutes of that break can be consumed in the company of the cold contents of a tupperware pot. A protracted shit, in one of the nicer Wonka factories, could eat another quarter of an hour. But what of the remaining ninety mins?
With no opponents, no venue and no team-mates, a game of football is out of the question. The university stubbornly refuses to provide sewing machines in the Learning Grid, so making a dress is practically impossible in so short a window. The only option is to work; to work in the library.
A problem: it is impossible to find a library seat at midday without devoting at least half an hour to finding it. Half an hour of your time, you are aware, is of too great a value to fritter away looking for a desk. Instead, you must arrive at the crack of dawn and — in allusion to the apocryphal German poolside sunbather — claim your square metre of prime library escritoire.
Secured for the full eight hours of your daily campus residency, that table is you dormant home from home — your empty château in France, your second house lying fallow — for that two hour break. Here’s how to get one.
1. Choose a convenient seat
The sort that someone else is likely to covet. It must have a socket, even if you have no laptop. It must be by a window. It must not be opposite a deranged fidgety specimen. You may only plan to sit there for 25 minutes, but your comfort is paramount.
2. Cover it with library books that you have no intention of reading
Books are your protection from invaders. A book on your desk implies that your absence is temporary. A book is un-stealable: the shelves are littered with equivalent models, and you own none of them so who cares? Should somebody require one of your protection books, screw ‘em.
3. Have a phone conversation
You may not need to. You may not want to. But why not?
You have a lecture to go to. You are more important than the other, present, library-goers. Fourth floor is supposed to be a sea of empty chairs.
Rules are for losers, and you have a box of sardine pasta and a packet of crisps that you’re bloody well going to eat. You’ve bought a coffee too, which you’re going to spill because you’re great.
6. Browse Facebook
Go to town. Browse more intensely than ever you would at home. See a nice picture? Tame your shrew. Make it aggressively clear that have no intention of doing anything of value. You own that seat because you deserve it, not because you need it.
7. Put all of the things in your bag onto your desk, and other desks near you
Six months’ dirty tissues. A vibrator. Some broken pens. Many more books. Pile ‘em up and let ‘em spill.
8. Develop an infectious-sounding illness
Ideally, you should be sneezing, have bloodshot eyes, some kind of rash and a loudly mucus-filled nose. Everybody within a five metre radius of you should be afraid for their health.
9. Set your phone to vibrate, unmute every group chat and place it on a hard surface
You are intensely popular. Everyone must know.
10. Take extremely regular lavatorial breaks (the infectious-sounding illness might come in handy)
Keep the others on their toes by taking a ten-minute break every five minutes. If male, be sure to spend at least half that time standing a metre from the urinal. Other chaps have no right to see you tickle your Twix, but let’s treat them.
11. Purchase more food
Obviously, you aren’t hungry, but it’s never the wrong time to smear half a tuna mayo sandwich into your desk. Try to work it into the corners.
12. Take off your shoes
They are uncomfortable. Largely because you’re shit at buying shoes. Take off the rest of your clothing too. The library is far too hot. What kind of prick is going to object to your bald man in a boat?
13. Have an enthusiastic conversation in a foreign language
If English is your only tongue, make grunting noises instead.
14. Leave again
It’s important not to forget that you are more important than the other library-goers. Leave everything valueless — or owned by someone else — in its place on the desk.
15. Return seven hours later, simply to retrieve your jacket and textbooks
Keep your options open, and own that space even when you are certain you have no further opportunity to use it.
16. Leave your litter in a small pile in the corner of the desk
It helps the cleaners.
17. When leaving, make sure you are level with the barrier card scanners before making any attempt to locate your student card
Maybe try using your bank card first. The people queuing behind you love the theatricality of this process. They worship you.
18. Have another enthusiastic conversation in a foreign language directly in front of the barriers
It’s the most convenient place for you to catch your friends — they have to push past you to enter or leave the library. Perfect!
19. Fuck off and learn to share common space