Hello, my name is David Lewis and today I will be discussing Davis Library and why people choose to study there versus their dorm or other places. Before enrolling at Carolina, the importance of time management and studying efficiently were engrained in me by parents, teachers, heck, even neighbors! For me, that meant dedicating a part of my evening to sit in my room, and do whatever I needed to. That didn’t change in college; I did all of my work in my dorm during the first semester while my friends would go to the library prior to every exam or big project. I had no idea what drove them to do so. I expected the answer to be simple like “it’s quiet” and to that my question was, why can’t your dorm room be quiet? I soon realized the answer was much complex than that.
As I began researching, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one who wondered why college students go to their campus’ libraries. A study done at Purdue University suggests that a library is more than it seems. “Libraries must plan for all weeks, not just a typical week.” (Applegate, 2009, p. 345) Every student will have a different need at a different time, and libraries are aiming to accommodate as many of them as they can. Whether that means providing different types of seating, study rooms or group-focused rooms, libraries are aiming to create positive working environments for their students.
Positive working environments on college campuses, are made in hopes to produce better grades for their students. Another study, this time conducted at the University of Cape Town, suggests that there is a positive correlation with visiting the library and one’s GPA.( de Jager, 2018,p.49) Furthermore, the same study suggested that there is another positive correlation between library materials and GPA.(de Jager, 2018,p.49). This study showed the impact a library can have on student success.
The website for Davis Library showed that it may have been constructed with the ideas from the previously mentioned studies in mind. The library’s services are listed, along with equipment students can use and rooms students can rent. The library is open from 8 am to 2 am on weekdays allowing students to use it at virtually any time they may need to. The website gave off the impression that whatever a student could need, they would have it there.
I took my first trip to Davis on a Friday, with the goal of seeing the library on a weekend. As soon as I walked in, I noticed how everyone is spaced out, this invoked a sense of privacy in me. The students were spaced out among the varied seating. There were booth-like tables for groups, desks and a wide variety of comfortable chairs. That first floor had to be designed to be welcoming. The people themselves were dressed in comfortable clothes and all had laptops. A few people had a snack or two, suggesting that they would be there for a while. Davis seemed to be very accommodating for its students’ needs.
Some would say a library is a place of learning or studying, while I believe that is true, I think a library is also a place of irony. Some people had headphones in, most likely to discourage people from interrupting them as they work. I found this interesting, as they are coming to a public place and would not like any interaction. Furthermore, almost everyone took their phone out at some point and time and mindlessly swiped away for a few minutes. Later on, I would learn, one of the top reasons people come to their library is it is supposedly free of distractions, yet they create one with their phones.
There were people of all identities there. Some people are wearing shirts of political campaigns, such as senator Warren and senator Sanders. Other identity markers were the stickers on laptops and water bottles. The stickers ranged from camping or outdoor-related activities to a favorite movie quote. There are people of all genders, ethnicities and schooling years. My identity, specifically, being an outsider wasn’t a big deal Friday, Monday was a different story.
As soon as I walked on Monday I instantly felt out of place. The population in the library had almost tripled to what it was Friday, suggesting that people may like to work at the start of the week versus the end. The group rooms were rented and being used. I felt like an outsider Monday. I wasn’t in a group; I wasn’t studying for a midterm and I was watching people. I was noticed a few times to say the least. I wanted to interview people today and ask them questions. Almost half of the people I interviewed go to the library daily, some go once a week and one went prior to every big exam. When asked why they go to the library, they all said the same things, “it is quiet.” and “it is free of distractions.”
It seems to me that everyone that goes to the library expects to gain positive results from doing so. Some people go every day, some incorporate it into their weekly routine and others go to prep for big assignments. I definitely feel Davis was built in hopes of helping students succeed, the varied seating really stuck out to me. I do think it is important to acknowledge some of the ironies that I saw. I think they hint towards a possible different mindset in the library. In conclusion, I believe Davis library successfully creates an environment that encourages students to work or study, by welcoming them all, accommodating their needs and helping them whatever way they can.
Applegate, R. (2009.) The Library is for studying: Student preferences for Study Space. The
Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(4), 341-346.
de Jager, K. (2018). The use of academic libraries in turbulent times: Student library
behavior and academic performance at the University of Cape Town. Emerald Publishing. Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 19 Issue: 1, pp.40-52, https://doi.org/10.1108/PMM-09-2017-0037.