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The Daily Tar Heel

When I first got to UNC, I didn’t know there were different expectations that came with studying at different libraries. Whether it was Wilson, the UL or Davis, when I walked into each of these different spaces, I instantly matched the levels of quietness and social patterns of others around me. I never thought twice about why each library had a collective way of being. I just studied and moved on with my day. 

The library etiquette and how it formed across our many campus libraries has recently become a great mystery to me. It's an anomaly. Although it seems to be an unspoken understanding, it also seems to be practiced by all UNC students. 

The first library that I ever entered was Davis, with its towering eight floors and large brick facade. My era of being a Davis first-floor person was very short lived. 

Every time I sat down, I could hear the people at the table next to me rundown their suite drama and witness a breakdown from an overworked, midterm-ridden junior. Having to see these things while focusing on the next paper I had due was impossible. 

On the first and second floors, people would put their legs up on the desks and chairs. They would munch loudly on their food and leave crumbs everywhere, and fill up the tables with their entire friend groups, talking and laughing. I couldn’t finish any of my assignments because it felt more like a social scene than a place to get legitimate work done. 

The infamous yellow Bojangles cups were spread all around the tables leaving wet circle stains. People would sometimes even sleep on the ground, or abruptly start reciting poetry with no regard for their volume levels. Even worse, I was sometimes left scrambling to find a seat, and was always confused as to why it was so difficult for people to just put their respective chairs back in the right places when they were done with them.

I had to find another place to find peace. The first floor of Davis most definitely was not ideal, as the majority of people there did not follow the basic laws of normal human courtesy, let alone library etiquette. 

Naturally, Wilson had the classiest level of etiquette — you can tell just from the look of it. While walking up the marble steps of Wilson, someone instantly appeared behind me, saying I couldn’t bring my cup inside. It was so silent in there that I was afraid to breathe too loudly. 

The first time I stepped into Wilson's reading room, I was humbled by the quietness. Even though it felt like I was in Hogwarts or had stepped into a dark academia Pinterest board, I couldn’t move without the loud squeak of my shoes resulting in rapid glares back at me. 

The click of my pen could be heard across the room and there was no space for even quiet chatter. For me, no food and absolute silence was too far in terms of etiquette requirements. 

Ultimately, I moved onto the next library — the one we all got a tour of at our first official UNC visits — the Undergraduate Library. 

In contrast to Davis, the first floor of the UL was quiet and chatter-free. If you even laughed too loud, people would likely stare at you until you stopped, at least in my own experience. Also unlike Davis, people were clearly there to do their work and then leave. 

Overall, after much exploration of these libraries, I’d say the library that hits the sweet spot would be the UL. The Undergraduate library is a place where I could say a few words here and there, where people respected the items and the other people around them. 

Finally, I had found the library that was just right for me. The UL was my Goldilocks, and arguably the best library on campus.  

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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