We spoke to the people who actually sit in the round room of the Maughan

‘It spoils you because once you get used to working there, you can’t work anywhere else’


Everyone wants to sit there and it’s always packed. The round room is an enigma, so we set out to meet some of the people who somehow bagged themselves a seat there to ask how on earth they managed it.

Clarisse, a first year student in European politics student, explains: “It’s very selective, and you need to be there at 8 in the morning.” This is why you can’t get a seat when you come in at midday after a lie in.

In fact, even if you see the room half-full, you will soon discover that many people manage to save their place for a long time, not to lose the privilege of studying in the round room. And when asked about that, round roomers’ answer is very clear: “It’s only fine when you do it” says Emily, first year Liberal Arts.

It’s a code applying to the whole library that you are allowed to save a seat, but only if you leave your personal stuff there.

IMG_5253The round room is often described as the best place to work in the library. “There is a lot of pressure”, describes Clarisse, referring to the attitude of most people in the round room. People seem to get upset very quickly if you talk and upset the calm ambience.

However, as you’ve probably already noticed, some of the same people are always in the round room. Who are they? Well, if you want to check, it is very easy – just have a look around the room and check who is going to take a break every 30 minutes. As soon as they come back you can smell it.

Still, most of the people who study in the round room are the ones who need a quiet place to work and they don’t find the same working anywhere else. If you’re lucky, you can meet your teacher while you’re finishing an essay on his course.

Most importantly though, the room seems to produce a strange phenomenon, a sort of addiction. Emily says: “It kind of spoils you because once you get used to working there, you can’t really work very well in other places.”

IMG_5252 (1)A last important question raised is how to identify the regular visitors of the place. It’s pretty straightforward, all you need to do is to observe how they walk into the room. As Emily says: “You have to stride in.”

There is a risk involved though. All users know that there is a chance they may not find a seat and you have to avoid by all means turning around the room and getting out completely ashamed. It’s a sort of “walk of shame” that many can be seen doing every day. However, some people still pretend they don’t like the round room because it is too calm. Isn’t that how a library is meant to be?

It doesn’t take much of a genius to notice that, when browsing the top Instagram pictures taken at the Maughan Library, half represent the famous round room. But in order to feel like the round room is your home – you have to be part of a very select community.