Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Working in the Library

Somehow these last few days, I've hit upon a working routine that seems to be going quite well.  For the first time all year, I've started working in my college's beautiful Victorian library.  I think I was afraid before that I would take a table away from some poor stressed undergraduate while term was on.  In any case, now the library is all but empty and usually peopled by fellow graduate students, grinding away on their theses.  Yesterday, there were four of us, a political theorist, a geographer, a medievalist, and me, each happily encamped at one of the (apparently still original) oak tables, each in his or her own bay of the library.  I seem to be sitting at the end of the classics section and by the beginning of literary theory.  It's nice to have a work space that feels like your own.

I've only been working on Chapter Two in the library for the last week, so perhaps psychologically it has clicked that when I'm sitting at my nice oak table, I should be planning and writing about silver fork novels and dandies.

During my Master's degree, all of us English grad students had offices on two floors of the main humanities library.  It was great - first of all, you had your own space: a place to surreptitiously nap, a place to store books and notes and perhaps coax potted plants into liveliness, and a place to stash life-giving snacks.  The other joy of this set up was the ability to wander about when bored and bother your fellow students.  I found it was really useful to talk to other people who were having the same problems working or writing or researching.  Research can be lonely; human contact is hugely beneficial.

Working in the college library has allowed me a similar degree of socialising with my fellow students, which has been wonderful.  Because there are no university-related seminars or lectures running over the long vacation (which is indeed very long - term doesn't start again until the beginning of October) I had been wondering if I was going to wither away for lack of seeing anyone I knew.  Crisis averted!

The other plus to looking in the library is that if you need a little mental break while your unconscious figures out the details of the paragraph you're agonising over, you can gaze up at the lovely painted tiles on the ceiling.  (Pictured above - can you spot the boss of the Green Man?)

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