A freshers’ guide to library etiquette

Or how not to get shot by angry finalists

annoying people Cambridge cambridge library Cambridge University Finalists Freshers i am bitter Library uni library

Guys, we need to talk about what is and isn’t socially acceptable behaviour in the library.

This term I have managed to more or less blissfully avoid the library, but this weekend was different. I had shit that needed to get done and get done fast so naturally, I proceeded to one of Cambridge’s many designated spaces for silent and soul-crushing study.


Library expectations were high

But it was not to be. I witnessed behaviour that shocked me to my very core and made me question if anyone had spoken to these poor, naive freshers about how to behave in a library or if they were all just assholes.

Being an optimistic person, I’m assuming the issue is ignorance rather than asshole-ness and so this week I’ll be taking you through the dos and don’ts of how to behave in a library.

DON’T bring your food in

We all know studying works up an appetite. That’s why we use eating as an excuse to take frequent and well-deserved study breaks rather than working through lunch like some sort of barbarian. And if for whatever reason you simply can’t waste even half an hour not working so that you can eat, the least you can do is not be obnoxious about it.

There is a special place in hell for people that eat crisps loudly in the library and an even more special place in hell for the weirdo that was eating a tuna sandwich of all things in a certain college’s library last Saturday.


No jury would convict her if she killed him

DO control your PDA

Looks guys, I get it, the musty smell of books and the atmosphere of crushing despair can sometimes be too erotic to resist. You just can’t stop yourself from awkwardly playing footsie under the table while innocent bystanders look on in horror. Except you can and you should. If your attraction is simply too powerful to be contained, for the love of god at least try to keep it subtle.

To be perfectly clear, dragging each other into the medieval Welsh poetry section and having your way with each other, no matter how quiet you think you’re being, is not subtle.

Couple kissing in library --- Image by © Troy House/Corbis

You’re the worst

DON’T fall asleep

I don’t know if anyone told you this buddy, but there are a limited number of spaces in the library and people get a bit crazy when those spaces are being wasted. If you are tired, go back to your room and go the fuck to sleep. Do not take up a premium study spot with your sprawling form and use it for naptime.

I’m trying to get shit done and this is made considerably harder by the fact that you’re snoring and drooling on my notes. If you do this when sitting next to me, expect to be woken with a firm kick to the shins.

Cambridge boasts 97% student satisfaction with their library and IT resources (National Student Survey 2015).

I hate you and everything you stand for

DO keep your shoes on

It pains me that I even have to say this. If you are one of those people that takes their shoes off in the library, there is something deeply, deeply wrong with you. No one wants to see or smell your feet in a public place. Would you take your shoes off in the middle of a supervision or at work? I don’t think so. I don’t care if it’s more comfortable this way.

If you want to be comfortable, go work in your room where you can study naked and standing on your head for all I care, but if you’re in public, please keep all essential articles of clothing on.



DON’T show up if you’re ill

‘But we’re all ill right now! I can’t help it!’ I hear you cry. You know why we’re all ill right now? Because some self-absorbed fuckwits decided to come to the library, despite being sick, and cough and sneeze all over everything and everyone.

‘But I can’t concentrate unless I’m in the library!’ I hear you whine. While my tender heart bleeds for you, no one else can concentrate while you’re hacking up a lung in the corner. So kindly go breathe your final death rattle in your room where you won’t disturb anyone.


If you’re really that sick, stay in bed and don’t contaminate everyone else

In short, try to remember that the library is a shared space. If you want the freedom to do whatever the fuck you want while revising, go do it in your room. If you’re working in the library, try to actually work or at least don’t be so obnoxious that you prevent other people from working.

If you keep this shit up in exam term, I won’t be able to stop the finalists from killing you.