Hallward Library versus George Green: Where should you study?
The eternal dilemma
Despite the multitude of study spaces strewn across UoN’s pastures green, you’d struggle to name hotspots flocked to more than Hallward Library and George Green. Since building on Hallward finished in 1973, students have been faced with what often seems an impossible choice: The immovable object of Hallward or the unstoppable force of George Green. It’s a debate that has raged on for decades with neither side ever seeming to gain any sort of lead, neither side able to overcome the other’s undeniable aura. It’s for this reason, that I feel that it is important to outline exactly why the dichotomy is continually embraced and why no one places their vote with the third option: Djangoly Learning Research Centre on Jubilee Campus.
Let’s get the big one out of the way first, which library is better to work in? Well, the answer is both.
You see it really depends on what sort of studying you’re doing and how you manage your workload. If you’re a last-minute specialist then you probably thrive in the airless second and third floor of Hallward, surrounded by the thick monotony of endless, indistinguishable booths. It’s not pretty, but damn were the designers effective at removing any semblance of a distraction. It has the potential to crush the spirit, but if you’re able to avoid that fate then you may come out the other side with a remarkably well-focused essay.
By comparison, George Green goes for a more life-affirming approach. The hustle and bustle of which can be distracting when trying to meet a fast-approaching deadline. In almost every other circumstance though, George Green’s commitment to sociability gives it a leg up over Hallward. Vastly open-plan in its nature, even in the supposed “silent study spaces”, it allows for a more laid-back, friendly atmosphere which is great for group projects or just general reduced-stress study sessions. It feels as though George Green is marketed to those contented to work little and often, not too worried if they bump into a mate on one of their many coffee breaks.
Fancy yourself as a brooding academic? Boy, do I have the library for you. The dusty Hallward will no doubt suit your penchant for studying hefty tomes, sipping on that dark home brew and listening to old-school jazz. The mustiness is perfect as it forces you to go for many a quick breather, no doubt accompanied by your finest rolling tobacco. As you stand, looking up at those tiny windows, you ponder if you’d rather be in George Green. You then think about the homely brutalist architecture and swiftly get back to your pretentious Russian novel.
With its distinct lack of angular features and approachable busyness, George Green emulates the white noise of uni life. The tapping of keyboards competes for aural supremacy with the low mutter of gossip as students of all disciplines intersect for their study sessions. Wherever you’re seated, you’re only a few meters away from a hearty laugh or a mischievous giggle, a far cry away from the bleak functionality of Hallward.
George Green is a warm hug from an empathetic friend desperate to take you away from that stressful, yet nearly due essay. Hallward is the harsh taskmaster cloaking you in austerity, bearing down upon you as you regret leaving your assignment to the last minute. Pick your poison.
Does the George Green Cafe with its vast array of sandwiches and even soups finally allow it to beat out Hallward and its sub-par Cafe? Unfortunately so. Complete with way more seating and a groovier layout, George Green Cafe is hard to beat.
Hallward tried its best and despite being a better option for cramming in order to meet deadlines, it was never going to top the remarkable versatility of George Green. I think after getting over the initial disappointment, Hallward may accept this narrow defeat, revelling in the victory of not facing the same fate as the university’s other libraries, which apart from maybe the Djangoly Learning Research Centre and its harrowing views over the murkiest of waters, aren’t even in the debate.