What it’s like to be a humanities student in Guy’s Library
Sorry, I don’t do science.
Fairly early on in my KCL career, I decided that the Maughan wasn't quite the library for me; whilst I liked the fact that in between lectures I could go up to the mezzanine with my Pret soup and feel like I was absorbing knowledge just by being there, when it actually came to writing essays, it wasn't always the most conducive environment. There wasn't the crushing feeling of guilt if you had Netflix on in the background, you could happily sip your cup of tea and munch crisps without people giving you annoyed looks, it was totally ok to get up and wander/pretend to go and pee every fifteen minutes. It was also kinda empty; I felt like I was the only one working and the FOMO was so real.
For the majority of humanities students, Guy's library is a strange place south of the river full of textbooks and people who do science. It is the undiscovered country where they do things very differently! (Mainly working harder…and understanding numbers…and getting to understand how stuff actually works…I'm not jealous, honest…)
And so I began to look further afield. Aware of the mysterious New Hunt's House, I thought I would go and suss out the library there. After some initial geographical struggles and several issues with getting my card validated I was in!
Aesthetically, it has a very different feel to the Maughan. It's modern, and the desks are a lot smaller – a good and a bad thing for the Englishist who has a lot of paper and tends to spread everywhere! On the plus side, you can sit by the large windows and enjoy the natural light (with a charming view of the hospital!) But the main thing is the atmosphere – pulling out my scrappy gold exercise book and much abused/scribbled on copy of 'Bleak House' did make me feel slightly incongruous; I received more than a few curious looks from the girl next to me who was there with her calculator and chemistry textbook.
I was also struck by how full it was; there was no luxuriating in the space and spreading out across multiple desks that I was able to enjoy in the Maughan. No window seat and natural light for the late rising humanities student; I had to prowl up and down several times before someone headed off to their lecture and I was able to grab a seat in the middle of the room, realising too late that there was nowhere to plug my laptop in. But beggars can't be choosers and another lap of the library would have just made me look even more of an outsider and I didn't want to distract the highly studious occupants of the surrounding desks by packing up all my shit after noisily unloading it all.
There is nothing like being surrounded by a lot of very stressed medics to make you work hard. I'm now used to the sidelong looks when I pull out my novel and my coloured notes, I unapologetically rifle through pages looking for relevant quotations, scribbling in the margins and marking up copies. I've even gone so far as to eat in there; the bold choice of hummus and carrot sticks (I ate three bits of carrot and then got self consious that I was making too much noise so stopped).
I left that place having had the most productive work session of my degree thus far.