Library Rooms Are Not Chill Spaces

Some of Us Have Actual Work to Do

Graphic Nadine Adbellatif

A friend told me McGill offers individual study pods, phone booth-like spaces where one person can work in sound isolation. I’ve been wondering if they’d help keep people from using study rooms as chill spots between classes.

Every year, I deal with the same issue: trying to find  a space to do group work or to attend video meetings. You would think the group workspaces at the library would be ideal, yet I continuously run into people reserving the room and using it as a private place to chill for an hour or more at a time.

At this point, I’m not sure if I’m more upset at the people wasting these spaces that are supposed to be for collaborative work, or at Concordia for not providing enough private study spaces. These limited spaces get scooped up days or even weeks in advance, so if a meeting time gets moved, finding a space becomes a struggle. 

When people book rooms, they have 15 minutes to show up or forfeit their slot. While many seem to have groups of students studying, preparing presentations, or otherwise working, others have one single person scrolling on their phone. Those are the people who irritate me. While I’m left doing laps at the library, looking for quiet spaces in different buildings, some students use group workspaces as zen dens. Concordia, for its part, does state such rooms must be used by two or more people at a time. Of course, students with disabilities are exempt from that rule, as they should be.

If people need a place to chill, they can usually find a space in the Grey Nuns reading room. The basement in Faubourg also has spaces if they’re looking for a place where they can still talk but isn’t as crowded. There’s also the option of sitting in the main part of the library: on the upper floors, if you want a serene environment, or on the lower floors if you don’t care about people using their outside voices in study areas. 

Despite the number of buildings Concordia owns, the university seems to have limited spaces for students to hang out, especially if people are using study spaces to relax between classes.

One recommendation I have for Concordia is to use codes on the digital pads outside each room to tell if someone actually showed up for their slots. When coming in, students could type in a code confirming that they showed up to their reservation, encouraging people to cancel their reservation if they’re not going to use it. 

Last winter, I had a phone interview with someone based in Toronto right after my class ended. I managed to find a quiet corner on the tenth floor of the Hall building. I did my best to keep myself away from crowds and the sounds of people moving in and out of classes. Thankfully, this floor was far less occupied than the other floors, but I still wish I had somewhere I could have gone for 30 minutes to take the call.

If you’re ever upset or side-eyeing someone for taking a video call in the library, try not to blame them. They probably tried to get a private room for the meeting, but someone needed a private space to watch TikTok for a few hours.

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 7, published November 22, 2022.