The great novelist Shelby Foote once said, “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” I believe his statement can be verified if you look at many of the finest universities across the country. For example, there is Vassar College’s Thompson Library, which has been compared architecturally to the great cathedrals of Europe. There is Harvard University’s unwielding Wiedner Library, with its immense pillars, that just seems to scream at passers-by “We are smarter then you and you know it.” Bobst Library at New York University overlooks the bohemian area of Washington Square Park – if you look really hard, you can see Mary-Kate Olsen, unless she is standing behind a giant lollipop. Then we come to the great Rush Rhees Library at our university – the center of intellectual enlightment on the campus. I can honestly say that the library was the final clincher in my decision to attend UR. I toured the school on a typical mid-March day, so you can assume the temperature was about 20 degrees. I arrived late for the tour, so sadly I missed many of the fine buildings on the campus such as the architectural gems we know as Anderson and Wilder Towers. Luckily, Rush Rhees was the last stop on my tour. As you can imagine, after trudging through inches of brown snow and not being able to see any of the students at all – the two that were actually outside were, of course, covered from head to foot in hats, scarves and various animal pelts – and finally opened those large wooden doors and stepped inside Rush Rhees, I felt inspired. As I ascended the stairs to the second floor and looked in on the students in the Periodical Reading Room, thriving in their academic pursuits, I knew this was the place for me.Over the years, my time in the library has increased from the occasional drop-in during freshman year to the periodic 10-hour stint junior year. I swear to you, I saw people actually start to age junior year. I originally chose the Periodical Reading Room to be my main study niche mostly because I find it to be the most aesthically pleasing. In my opinion, the room looks like the kind of atmosphere you would find such wonderful academics as Carl Jung scribbling in notebooks at one of the back tables. However, I made a startling discovery a few weeks a go when I was studying for my neurobiology test. I had been in the library every night that week in preparation for this exam. The night before, I had had to practically fight for a middle seat at one of the tables in the center of the room – which is so not my style, I am a real first table, aisle seat kind of girl. However, when night finally fell, I was surprised at the lack of people. Where were the couch sleepers? Where were the constant aisle walkers? Where was the occasional old man who tries to blend in with the students? And then I realized it was Thursday. For many, the weekend had started and that is why the usual library goers were not there to give the atmosphere its usual pizzazz. The Periodical Reading Room, from what I have seen over the years, is really more of a place to be seen than a place to actually study. The serious studiers go to the stacks or the Great Hall. The Periodical Reading Room has everything you could ask for in a library experience except maybe productivity. The occasional group laugh at a silly cell phone ring that would be turned off because the person’s hands have been apparently tied to their chair, the awkwardness of being the one to make the lofty decision of putting the shades down, the wonderful girls that wear their stilettos as they walk the makeshift runway and take this as the opportune time to practice their strut and, of course, the ill-fated silent library romances, which never amount to anything more then far off gazes all happen in Periodical Reading Room. There are also those adorable couples that like to take library time as quality time to watch the other study, even if they have no work of their own. They are merely there for support. For example, the other day I saw a couple sitting across from each other with their identical iBook laptops, and I definitely had no thoughts of having to vomit when I found out they were talking on AOL Instant Messenger to each other. However, I have found that I can work relatively successfully in the Periodical Reading Room if I simply put my head down, listen to classical, “I am so intellectual” music and simply block out the sometimes annoying surrounding stimuli – even if this requires giving devil eyes to the person who feels they need to use their candy wrapper as a musical instrument. And if I ever get bored of my work, I can always look up and watch the entertainment that is the Periodical Reading Room. I think it might even be better than “Joey.”Lepore can be reached at

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