One word: glasses.
I was in the ZSR Starbucks this morning and couldn’t quite put my finger on what seemed different. And then I realized – it was so many students in glasses. Particularly young women. Normally you don’t see a ton of glasses on students, and it would be easy to assume either they have contacts or are still young enough to have 20-20 vision (ah, how nice that time was!) The answer appears to be that a lot of our students regularly wear contacts and they must all be soaking their lenses and relying on the glasses instead.
So between the tired eyes, minimal makeup (women) and two day stubble (men), and the very relaxed clothing (somewhere between workout pants and tshirts that look like they had seen a lot of wear of late), our students are dressed for finals.
There was not much of a line at Starbucks at 9:15 this morning, and you could find a seat downstairs as well as the comfy chairs in the loft. I expected to see a bigger crowd, but then when I went to the other parts of ZSR I saw that the lack of bodies in Starbucks was because they were Everywhere Else. In desks in the stacks. At every table in the Atrium. In large reading rooms. In the 24 hour study room. Tons of students tucked away in every quiet nook and cranny.
My favorite glimpse of a student today was a young woman deep in study. From my perch near Reference, I could see her through the windows of the old part of the building. She kept making a motion that caught my eye and I couldn’t see at first what it was. Looked like a brief wave of white. And then as I watched her, I realized she had old school flash cards. She’d pick one up, look at it a moment, and then do a flip to the reverse (where the answer presumably was).
I wondered what she was studying: foreign language vocabulary or verb conjugations? Chemistry or math equations? Dates for a history exam? It had been ages since I’d seen anyone with flash cards, and it brought me back to my old days at Wake (back when the Card Catalogue consisted of a billion tiny drawers, not a screen on a computer).
The feeling in the library was one of absolute quiet. Yes, libraries are typically quiet, but at finals it is much more so. The seat I’d chosen to observe the scene was not particularly close to the nearest student, yet it was quiet enough I could hear him typing on his ThinkPad. Those keys are not loud. It was quiet enough you could hear people turning pages in books – just little rustling papery sounds. Occasionally you could hear a cough, or someone asking a question at Reference. But overall, very very quiet.
The ZSR has free coffee and lots of fun streamers and decorations in the Atrium. That’s become a tradition each Finals Week. Near Reference, some enterprising person had done this sheet of Tearable Puns (clever!) And the student group DoRAK (Do Random Acts of Kindness) had chalked a lot of good luck messages on the sidewalk outside the main entrance. Those tiny things can make a big difference and can give study-weary kids a momentary grin. Well done, DoRAK!