We went to the Harold Cohen for the first time
Do you even go here?
As Arts students, the prospect of the Harold Cohen can seem quite daunting, with its mint green walls that remind you of a hospital (which seems appropriate, given the number of medics) and seemingly endless corridors and stairways, littered with pokey reading rooms and studious-looking scientist. But, in our final year of university, we decided to venture where few arts students have gone before. We dared to enter it’s mathematical depths. We ventured north and went into the unknown. We were terrified.
Within minutes of entering the building, we found ourselves lost. Unlike the Sydney Jones, with it’s wide open spaces and abundance of windows, the HC seems to consist of many small rooms that branch off other slightly larger rooms. The decor seems to favour wood panelling and painted brick, a far cry from the comforting nuclear bunker style of Grove wing.
Beginning our journey, we decided to offload our nervous bladders and find a loo. Easier said than done. The HC seems to have a fuck tonne of signage but most of it is so generalised you can end up in a corridor, looking for a toilet, the printer and a wormhole in one. After walking into a few empty stairwells that seemed to lead to nowhere, we asked a suspicious librarian if they could point us in the right direction. Result: we found the loo and were pleased to discover that unlike the SJ, there was ample loo paper and no queue whatsoever – what was this sorcery?
Refreshed, but still apprehensive, we continued on our quest, hoping to find a quiet spot to do some work in this alien environment. Moving up the stairs, we discovered the silent study area. But this wasn’t second floor of the SJ, oh no, silent in the Harold Cohen means proper silent. No hushed whispers and crackling crisp bags in here. When we walked into the wooden panelled room, ten heads eyed us angrily. People knew we didn’t belong here – we gave off that vibe. We stood out like a nun in Concert Square.
After only 10 minutes in the stifling atmosphere, we escaped – and discovered another staircase that seemed to lead to nowhere.
After spotting some signage that told us the social study area was upstairs, we jumped into another stairwell what hadn’t seemed to have been used this the late 1950s. We wouldn’t be surprised if there were posters telling you had to survive a nuclear attack hanging around.
Even the books looked modern and unused – where were the well-thumbed history texts that were printed in 1904? Where were the philosophy books that had 17 pages missing in the chapter you want? Had these scientific books ever been touched? Or were they redundant in a world of online science journals and e-books? One thing was for sure – HC users are a lot less keen on books than the SJ. There were definitely less of them, anyway.
After getting stuck in the narrow book shelves, and feeling like a panic attack was inevitable, we decided it was time to leave this hell hole and find some fresh air and the comfort of the SJ. Still earning confused and suspicious looks from fellow students, wound our way around until graciously, amazingly, we found the exit of this warren of a library.