The honeymoon period is over: The Laidlaw is a massive disappointment

Maybe it’s time to retreat to the Brotherton

brotherton edward boyle laidlaw leeds library uni uol

Cast your mind back to May 2015. Months of eagerly peeping though cracks in the workmen’s fence and telling ourselves this was our last airless summer in the bowels of Eddy B culminated in the Laidlaw finally opening its eternally revolving doors.

Perhaps the weight of the expectation was simply too much.  An unattainable vision of glory was created. A dream-space, overflowing with plug sockets beyond our wildest fantasy. A place where dissertations become bearable.

Have you seen Brotherton’s dome of wonder? What is this concrete mess?

Few would guess that behind its polished exterior and space-age foyer lies a filthy secret. No, not that the ceiling remains impressively AWOL. The fact is that the library is simply not fit for purpose. It is deceptively spacious, the mass of bodies we are accustomed to replaced with tranquil scenes. Giant booths shield the occupants and desks lazily meander across the floors. Here lies the crux of the matter: there’s no space. In fact, we don’t think the designers could have thought of a worse use of space if they tried. Worryingly, we assume they did.

The Uni seems to be battling with an obsession with slightly sexual sculpture. A pair of parallel pubes were recently installed by the Michael Sadler and Laidlaw welcomes students with a decidedly phallic chimney. Could this be a subtle tribute to the man behind the library?

It even glows in the dark

Level 2 boasts a roof terrace where students can take time to de-stress, enjoy some air, smell the flowers. How thoughtful. Oh no wait, the roof terrace is in fact off limits to students.

Who, I hear you cry, can enjoy it? Bees, that’s who. We rise early, share tables with people we don’t know, do enough exercise for a year climbing the stairs to re-scout floor 3, all so a small collection of bees may enjoy the luxury of a whole roof garden.

I asked the front desk staff about the bees. After all, they are there to help as the HD screens on every wall announce. One confirmed my fears while another chimed in: “They’re all dormant at the moment though.” Fab. Not only has our space been donated to bees, they’re not even awake to appreciate it.

Better than most student accomodation

There may be a lack of chairs but there’s certainly a variety. The crowning glory are the high-backed armchairs which gaze over Leeds, more suited to a James Bond villain than a library. All you’re missing is a white Persian cat to stroke as you plot your revenge on the stream of sixth formers who peer round the side at lunchtime to see if your throne is free.

World domination is further hindered by the distracting stomping of people in search of a seat, as well as the fact that every toilet is out of order so each trip is a major expedition.

Nurture your inner evil genius

The silver lining to all this pain is that there are no books in the silent area, so the food mafia are on less frequent patrol. Breath easy – you can eat your over-priced Nero in secret peace.

The problem is, now we’ve had a taste of the sweet life we cannot go back to the echoing cave of Brotherton or the claustrophobic Eddy B – even without the endless drilling it would be a degradation few could bare. Every time we log onto the portal we are reminded of the “100s of work-spaces” that await us in the other libraries in a futile attempt to lure us back.

I want to tell Laidlaw that it’s over, that i’m sick of its deceit. But I know, as sure as the sun will rise over its handsome face, each day I will return, hoping it will be different.