Before you view the best blog post that you will ever read, first I should tell you some bad news. This well be the last blog post I will ever do on here.
I know, I know. It’s a sad time for everyone involved. However, as I leave you, the fellow 301 Blog viewers, I want to leave with you a special part of me. I want to leave you with my favourite place to study. My legacy, which I leave for you all, is a tour of the greatest library to man. I give you: Western Bank Library.
“But Tom”, I hear you say, “Isn’t Western Bank stuffy? Doesn’t it have a weird silent area? Doesn’t it have books kept in weird cages? All my friends hang out in the IC and the Diamond, and they’re cool!”
Allow me to educate you all. Western Bank is where the truly hip kids hang out. The Diamond is for engineers, the IC is for everybody, and Western Bank is for the cool kids.
What’s so special about it? Over a million books. The IC has only just over 100,000. When you go to the lower floors, there are books that are in gated off areas because they are so rare. You came to uni to read, right? Well why not check out a leather tome written in Old English? Why not immerse yourself in an area where it can be you, your mind, a book, and your sheer contemplation away from any distractions?
I know, I know. This either sounds scary or unconvincing to the IC crowd. However, I hope to enlighten you all by taking you all on my own personal tour of Western Bank!
So you enter this palace of wonder into the foyer. This is where people hang out and have lunch with multiple sofas available. It might not have its own café (although you can go next door to the Arts Tower if you are so inclined) but people are too cool to eat hot food on plates here. Instead, you’ll see the young whippersnappers munching on whatever they brought in their lunchboxes or portable food from elsewhere. This allows a more relaxed eating environment.
Another plus is that this open space allows you to meet multiple friends and also bump into others. You can truly hang out with a big group, which is useful to take decent breaks away from work. When you are in the IC and Diamond, you might decide to eat or have a chat at your work table. In Western Bank, with the provision that the upper floors are largely silent areas and no eating/hot drink zones, the foyer provides a sepeate place to relax. Your work isn’t constantly staring you in the face. You are in a different zone from that now, with friends, in a safe place.
What makes this place such a vibrant spot to meet people is also Western Bank’s double edged sword. Because you will always see people coming down here to use the toilets and water fountain – the only toilets and water fountain in Western Bank. Rumour is that this is so because otherwise water pipes may leak onto the rare books here. Either way, it does prove an annoyance compared to the abundance of toilets available in the IC and Diamond. But what this does is ensure a good few minutes break in-between studying to keep hydrated.
You go upstairs to the turnstiles, where you enter with your ucard. There is no monitor telling you how many people are in the building here. This is a place of mystery.
You go up the stairs to yet another lobby in which you can chill out. This is a more immediate place of respite to the silent area ahead. But there is a large amount of space here, sofas, printers, and the library help desk.
Onto the infamous area. The place some people dread, and others love. A room of polarisation. I give you, the silent study area:
It has the sleek design. It has the glorious lighting. It has the book adorning its nooks and crannies. A lot of space and places to sit (unlike the Diamond!).
Many people feel uneasy here. They feel like making any noise in the silent study area, such as rustling paper, will attract the ire of all. Correction: people might look at you simply because it is some stimulus away from their work. It is a great place to concentrate, but every now and then people like to zone out and so they’ll have a look around. But know that everyone here is in the same boat to study, and no one is judging you because they are too focused on their work.
And now we go downstairs to the lower levels. As you go down further, the more obscure and older the texts go. Every lower floor is largely the same layout. You’ll find dark corridors of tomes, with the light only coming on as you walk past due to motion sensors. Personally, I find this pretty cool. Some might find it creepy. Whatever floats your boat.
There are multiple computers and study spaces to be found on these floors also. But on the second level, the main event: the cages! Again, some find them ominous. Personally, I love thinking what items could be so valuable that they need to be locked up. The Holy Grail? The Fountain of Youth? The real Da Vinci Code? I’ve never actually been in, but you can access it with staff help if you’re finding something specific.
And that’s Western Bank for you. I hope my tour may have changed your mind if you were a doubter, or proven nostalgic if you’re a lover. And with that, I bid you goodbye. Good luck on all your 301 travels!