The first time I went to the SciLi was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. I was at Brown for a week and needed to use a computer. My friend Ian and I had already been kicked out of the Rock, and so we approached the looming shadow of a building on Thayer Street. Immediately intimidated by the idea of getting into an elevator and choosing a floor, we marched up the big scary stairs and settled into the Mez.
I next visited the SciLi early freshman year with my new friend, Jillian. In possession of our first college homework assignments, we decided that going to a library was what we were supposed to do. This time, I made it into an elevator and we arbitrarily chose the third floor. This was in the days before the Science Center brought in Smartboards, a sign-in sheet and fancy tables on wheels. In the fall of 2007, the third floor was a giant cavernous space, with large sofas scattered around the room. This in no way resembled any library I had ever seen, but it soon became our spot.
Sophomore year I took harder classes, lived across the street from the SciLi and broke my computer about three times. Somehow, this all culminated in me effectively taking up residence in the Frisc. With a front-row view to all the antics of the 24-hour study center, I applied my own insanity to theorizing what the hell went on in this crazy, bright green space. In the form of emails to my friends, I invented the idea of cross-over hour (the Frisc is busiest weeknights between 9 and 11 pm when early and late studiers converge) and tested exactly how loud the basement was with a decibel counter. Finally, my friend Chaz said to me, if you have so much to stay about a stupid library, just start a blog. I think he was kidding. I did it anyway.
Out of habit, out of obligation to my blog, out of a strange sense of loyalty, I came to spend a good portion of my four years at Brown inside the SciLi. I've been here all day. I've been here all night. I've eaten breakfast, lunch, dinner and more snacks than I care to think about inside these concrete walls. The number of cups of coffee I've consumed (not to mention, spilled) would also come to an alarming total.
I've written papers, built PowerPoints, crammed for exams, watched television, gchatted for hours straight, creeped on Facebook, caused a ruckus, shushed other people causing said ruckus, stopped by just to use the bathroom, witnessed several break ups, made phone calls, received phone calls (sorry about my obnoxious ringtone), printed innumerable documents, commandeered computers for entire days at a time and claimed an entire table as my very own.
I've gotten to know the amazing staff who spend their days trying to figure out how to make the library a better place for us. I finally got to the bottom of why there is only one freaking bathroom in the entire basement (it's a pipe issue). I've determined that doing homework on a de facto chaise lounge is not all that productive. I found myself a spot in the SciLi, and I came to treat it as my own living room.
Most people cannot understand why I choose to work in the SciLi, let alone devote an entire blog to its existence. This place is mayhem. It is always loud, and frenetic, and my internet never works as well as it should. This year, I obtained my own dedicated space in another library: as part of the thesis process, I earned a Rock carrel. Here was a space all of my very own, checked out in my name, filled with my books and decorated with my various thoughts. My carrel was a thing of beauty, aesthetically, but also in its isolated silence. Here, I was actually quite productive.
And yet, I still made excuses to come to the SciLi. It was on my way somewhere. I could use an ethernet cord and avoid the whole internet problem. It opened earlier (and so did its coffee cart). Having spent so much of my time at Brown here, I find the intensity of the Frisc oddly comforting. I like sitting at my table, running into people I know, pretending to hate how everyone behaves in here, and being just as guilty of loud, obnoxious library etiquette. I take secret pride in the fact that this is the tallest, ugliest building in Rhode Island.* I love being the first person to arrive in the mornings, before the library turns crazy.
I've grown up tremendously in the past four years, and even more since the first time I set foot in this fortress of a library. The SciLi has been constant, and a beacon of support. I still don't like the stacks, and I still study in places that do not even remotely resemble a library. Next week I will walk through the Van Wickle Gates, and I may never think from the Frisc again, so this is my final farewell to the giant fortress on Thayer Street. SciLi, it has been real. Thanks for the memories.
*I have reason to believe neither of these titles is true, but I'm going to keep applying them anyway.