Why first years deserve to use the library during exam season

I want that booth spot just as much as you do

With exams looming, the age-old irritation of first years in the library has emerged once again. I’ve heard it before: “Your grades don’t matter. Why do they think they have a right to the library? You’re only first years.”

Yet, as a first-year who has used the library for most of their work so far, I beg to differ. Of course, this is not a justification for every first year; some don’t care about their exams to the point of wanting to use the library as often as I do. However, I would like to give a defence for those of us who need the library, in return for all the comments complaining over our existence taking up your favourite spots.

Not being able to work in your room

For someone who cannot work in their room, the library is vital to me. Many times, I have tried to complete work from within my flat but have failed miserably. Others may be able to work effectively in their room, but for me, I need separation from the place where I sleep and relax.

I know for a fact within 15 minutes of me working I will have turned on Disney Plus or Netflix in search of a show to act as “white noise” while I’m working. We all know this ends up in a four-hour binge. Some people may be able to just get on with their work in any environment, but over the years I have discovered I am a professional procrastinator.

Whilst my work may not be seen as equally important to the work of the second or third years, it still needs to be done. The almost creepy quietness of the library, paired with other people working around me is a far better motivator than the wall of photos I have stuck on my wall back in my room.

Life outside your room

During the pandemic when we have had very few other places to go, the library has been a saving grace. No matter what year you are, your mental health is important. Something that gets everyone down is planning a day of work and then getting none of your list done because you spent your time scrolling TikTok telling yourself you’ll start in 27 minutes – because who can start work at an odd time?

This is far less likely to happen if I take the time to pack up my work materials and drag myself to the library. Even if you’re a first-year living a 30-second walk from the library, it’s a great reminder that humanity outside of your room exists. For me, the 15-minute walk from Alexandra Park to Alexandra Square makes a huge difference on a day when I have no plans.

By taking the trip to the library and surrounding yourself with fellow students, it reminds you of one of the reasons why you are at university in the first place.

The right to start a work routine

Not everyone needs to use the library for effective research and revision, especially not the people whose first year doesn’t really matter. However, some do want to work towards their exams and put the effort in.

It creates a routine for the coming years where exams do matter and count towards our degree. I want to be prepared for second year and third year, with my revision routine already set in place for when I get to that point. I also am on a degree with a sandwich placement year as part of my course. For students who are on a degree with a placement year or study abroad scheme included, we must achieve a certain grade in our first year to be allowed to continue the placement year or study abroad aspects of our degrees.

To all the people who want to tell me my first year doesn’t matter – mine does.

The Library is an information source

Sometimes, we forget the original use of the library – books.

While most books the university owns are online, I have found that a lot of history books I want to use are still only available in a physical format, tucked into a shelf in the depths of the library. If I am already in the library working, it is so much easier to access the information rather than having to spend 40 minutes walking there, finding it, and walking back.

The convenience of its location

As a Cartmel student, the library is far closer to Costa, Greggs or Spar in case I’m in need of snacks. I don’t have a printer either, leaving me with the only option of the library if I want to print something off.

Also, some of us, however unlikely it may be, don’t own a laptop and the only place a computer can be accessed is in the library. Finally, we all came to the university to use the facilities on campus, and the library is part of that. Whether you’re a first-year revising for exams or a third-year completing a dissertation, we all have the right to use it.

So, there you have it: every possible reason why first years deserve a spot in the library.

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