Tuesday at the ZSR

I had a meeting in Reynolda Hall at 11:00 yesterday and then was meeting some folks in the ZSR Library at 12:45, so I had about 45 minutes of time to sit with my laptop and do some work outside the office.  I thought it might be fun to see what the library looked like at that time of day.

First stop, Starbucks.  And there were probably 10 students in line in front of me.  It was a busy time, but not crazy busy.  Looks like most of the students were split evenly between hot and cold coffee drinks.  The day was warm, high 70s/low 80s so I was not surprised to see all of the cold drinks.

After I got my coffee, I tried to walk upstairs to the Starbucks loft area, where there are comfy leather chairs, big work tables, and outlets to plug in your laptop.  Nothin’ doin’ – every space was occupied, or had a book bag in it that was either the owner’s or a friend in the coffee line.  Not wanting to disturb anyone while they were studying, I elected not to ask about empty seats and moved on.

I went back down the stairs across the hall from Starbucks to the quiet study room.  There were about 10 people on the lower level (I didn’t try the upper).  What struck me first is just how seriously people take the “quiet” idea.  You could hear a pin drop.  Well, there was a near-constant sound of laptops and keyboards, mine included, but it was otherwise very, very quiet.

Some of the students were reading books, some writing notes or presumably doing research for a paper or project.  Several had laptops out, including one girl whose laptop had a large “I LOVE VERMONT” bumper sticker on it, with the “O” in “LOVE” as a big red heart.  There’s a copy machine/printer in the room too, so occasionally a student would bring in things to copy or print.  The only real speech in the room would be someone at the printer saying “thanks” to the person in front of them who was separating out the print jobs.

It was interesting to watch students come in and look for a space.  Some clearly preferred the work tables, and usually those were occupied by just one student at a time.  But as a new student needing a table came in, he just looked at all three and chose the closest table, and took the seat on the opposite side of a girl who had preestablished her position.  Most of these tables are two chairs to each side, so when the New Guy came in, he sat diagonally from Preestablished Girl – rather than directly across from her – I guess to give them both space.  Everyone seemed to know the rules of engagement.

I was pleased to see that the chairs in the room were pretty comfortable.  It made for a not-unpleasant temporary office for me as I awaited my next meeting.

Final observation – campus appears to be pretty healthy right now.  Later in the fall, when cold season is more officially in, I would have expected to hear a lot of cough, cough, hack, hack.  Yesterday was nothing more than a sneeze.  In a room that quiet, unless you have headphones on, you would hear everything.  I was glad not to hear the signs of obvious colds.

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