Thoughts from the Frisc

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.

Wednesday, 11:09 pm

Word on the street: Naked Donut Run tonight.

Don't get your panties in a twist just yet; if history repeats itself, things won't kick off till about midnight in the Rock, followed by visits to the CIT and SciLi. UNLESS the runners switch routes to trip up security following last semester's SciLi debacle.

Wednesday, 9:03 pm

Pizza nite at the Rock. Three minutes in and all we've seen are apples. The masses now extend from circulation to the stairs. And everyone wants to know, where is the pizza?

Wednesday, 9:15 pm

The masses are assembled, and still unfed. Oh the travesty!

Wednesday, 9:05 pm

"I assume you're here to get pizza, not to check out a book. We're as surprised as you are, but the pizza is not here."

Wednesday, 11:55 pm

A much calmer SciLi run than usual: the nudes appear from the emergency exit stairs, circle peacefully to applause, and leave as quickly as they came.

Wednesday, 11:41

BlogDailyHerald and loyal readers report the naked runners came, showed, conquered in the Rock. Headed to Sciences Park now.

Wednesday, 6:52 pm

Big signs in the lobby warn about laptop theft. Finals, like natural disasters, bring out the looters in us all apparently.

Wednesday, 4:06 pm

The SciLi has been hacked!

Tuesday, 11:52 pm

Spotted in the 00s:
Sharpies, a ruler, an exacto knife, a yard stick and a whole lotta glitter

Say what you want, but art is not silent.

Monday, 10:08 pm

Things that are acceptable: Coming to the library with your friends

Things that are also acceptable: Coming to the library with your significant other

Things that are never acceptable: Making out with said significant other in the Frisc. During finals.

Monday, 9:43 pm

"Is this even allowed?" asks an overeager studier of his friend as they push several blue armchairs into a study room.

No, no it is not.

Monday, 5:15 pm

BREAKING: why wait till Wednesday when you can have free pizza tonight? Word on the street is 6pm in the Science Center.

Monday, 9:10 am

The simple joys of finals period:

As the end of reading period approaches and we prepare to dive into finals, it's time to get a couple events on the calendar. From inside intel, we have learned that this Wednesday, May 11 will be free pizza night at the Rock and this Thursday, May 12 will be free pizza night in the Frisc. Advice from a veteran: at the Rock, your chances of losing a limb in the fight for pizza will be lessened. At the Frisc, however, there will be a greater selection of snacks. Both pizza nights will likely commence at 9 pm.

Still waiting on tips about the Naked Donut Run. After last semester's debacle, we are cautiously hopeful that the tradition will continue in full-frontal glory.

Sunday, 4:23 pm

During crunch time, the Frisc becomes a home for many … the computers doubling as televisions, the couches doubling as beds and the whole freakin library doubling as a kitchen. Ratty take-out is pretty typical and pretty inoffensive. The scent of french fries is at best, comforting, and at worst, pretty innocuous.

For a long time, we were forced to confront the intense smell of greasy Chinese food. Now that Iron Wok has taken roots, the former truck's cuisine is thankfully enjoyed primarily on Brook Street.

There's a new kid in town. The entrance of Mama Kim's Korean BBQ onto the food truck scene has created quite a splash among students. And its SciLi proximate parking unfortunately means an in-library splash of intense aroma.

Saturday, 1:09 pm

The library has now also begun to ask, why study when you can sit outside?

(Photos courtesy of Margaret Watson)

Friday, 10:45 am

In exciting renovation news, one of the basement study rooms is being repainted. How bout some soundproofing while you're in there?

Monday, 11:15 pm

A congested night in the basement.

Monday, 10:38 am

About to attend my last undergraduate class, but I may be derailed by a battle with PawPrints. At least there's some sense of continuity here.

Monday, 8:11 am

OMG ICE CREAM!!!!111!!1!!11!!

Courtesy of Safe Walk and DPS, there will be free ice cream in the lobby today from 3-6 p.m.

In other news, reading period has left the entire library deserted. Perhaps this afternoon will bring back the masses.

(We could say the library will instead be "desserted" but that seems like overkill.)

Saturday, 1:33 pm

Wednesday, 9:15 pm

Yeah you, you Frisc me all night long.

Wednesday, 5:01 pm

Basement bathrooms closed for repair. This can't be good.

Tuesday, 11:01 pm

What not to do in a Quiet Center study room:

The passive-aggressive "please" is a nice touch.

Tuesday, 10:30 pm

A public service announcement to readers: On no floor of the SciLi are the classrooms soundproof. I am next door, and I hear everything.

And it gets worse: Hey fifth floor: down here in the Quiet Center we know all about the calamities you faced today in housing lottery. We may wonder what would happen if walls could talk, but one thing's for sure — the vents do.

Monday, 6:35 pm

Live a cappella love song performance in the basement, directed at a girl sitting quietly in the corner. Apparently, she's the "sweetheart of Sigma Chiiiiiiiiiiiiii."

"Your glasses really complement the curves of your face."

Sunday, 1:04 pm

POST BRUNCH RUSH: At 12:45, the Science Center was overcome by silence. Two people sat working steadily in the Big Room, keeping to themselves. Within 15 minutes, the room had been flooded. Now would probably be a good time to get on the omelet line at the Ratty.

Thursday, 3:27 pm

…that short little window between the distant memory of spring break trips and the shining prospect of Spring Weekend and sunny afternoons on the Main Green.

Try to ignore the fact that the temperature finally broke 50 degrees; these next few days are what make it count. The time has come to finish every one of those I-thought-it-was-optional response papers and "final" research projects (which always seem to be due in the days before the springtime debauchery begins). Get it all in now, and you can avoid the SciLi FOREVER. Well, at least until reading week.

Thursday, 10:12 am

25 decibels ≠ screaming into your cell phone

Move it or lose it.

Wednesday, 10:11 am

This picture shall go captionless, because there are just too many things to be said about it. Interpret at your will.

Tuesday, 4:58 pm

The Science Center's answer to "water fountain."

Now there's one hell of a hydration station.

Tuesday, 3:00 pm

BREAKING: A second elevator is down. There are waits on nearly every floor. Shit's getting real.

Tuesday, 10:33 am

Spotted in the men's room: Making an awful situation worse

— Courtesy of a TFTF correspondent

Monday, 9:29 pm

Genuine crisis: on one of the fullest SciLi nights of the year, elevator #2 has decided to take a mental health day. Whatever happened to teamwork?

Monday, 8:31 pm

We just can't get over how novel a quiet library is, can we?

Monday, 9:49 am

Signs the University should reallocate its heating resources: Every single person in the Frisc is wearing a coat, while TFTF correspondents report that Orwig is "102 degrees." Though said report may be an exaggeration, there is clearly a problem at hand.

Sunday, 2:24 pm

Giving new meaning to the idea of "silent films":

Saturday, 4:47 pm

Who knew the Rock cafe cart was closed on Saturdays? Must we be forced to import our caffeine? Scandal!

Thursday, 3:34 pm

For the past week or so, the Rock has been bumper-to-bumper carrel-to-carrel jam-pack filled. All you had to do was wheel your chair too forcefully and five people would stick their heads into the aisle to admonish you with their eyes.

Today though, with the sun shining brightly, there is barely a soul in sight. We are indeed experiencing the annual phenomenon of SPRING: You know it's here when every student on campus loses sight of academia (blinded by the (sun)light?) and takes to the Main Green.

To the desperate few still toiling away up here, there is consolation: The sun streaming through the tall windows has increased the temperature from frostbite to light sweater level.

Wednesday, 1:09 am

It's officially that final stretch toward break — you've suddenly realized you have two midterms, four papers and several pressing social obligations before the University bell tolls next Friday. And so as the night approaches its darkest hour, studiers pile into the Frisc and on this particular evening, the club is jumpin' jumpin'.

As such, this would be an opportune moment to discuss rules, etiquette and customs of the late-night study bender, or if you are one of the more unfortunate souls, the all-nighter:

— Comfort is key.
DO put on those moccasins and pull on a sweatshirt. In addition to the coziness it will provide, it will also prevent you from suffering the frostbite that plagues all Brown libraries.
DON'T wear high heels and a high-wasted skirt. Yes, girl-who-keeps-making-a-racket-everytime-she-walks, I am talking to you.

— Respect others.
DO remember that we're all in this together.
DON'T shush someone before 2 a.m. You can still go to the stacks.

— Caffeinate.
DO stake out the cafe cart just before closing time. If you ask really nicely, that extra coffee is all yours at the reasonable price of lukewarm, a little grind-y and FREE!
DON'T count on the vending machine. The Diet Cokes have been cleaned out for days.

— Remember that this is still a library
DO feel free to grab a little shut eye on one of the chaise lounges. We're still not sure what they're for otherwise.
DON'T snore. Too many decibels.

— Only the strong survive.
DO stake out a desk and hold onto it tight. Mark your territory.
DON'T assume anyone is here to help you. After 2 a.m., the stapler disappears from circulation, you cannot rent out headphones to block out the snoring, no one will fix the printer for you, and you better hope there's still toilet paper in the bathroom.

Good luck, and good night.

Tuesday, 4:04 pm

Number of people watching YouTube videos > Number of people doing actual work

Tuesday, 2:56 pm

Afternoon studiers are met by the fragrant scent of Kabob and Curry, and tonight features an extra special surprise:
The Science Center welcomes all our loyal patrons to come to the Science Center on Tuesday, March 15th at 6pm for some celebratory cake, followed by the sampling of Tasteberries! Along with this cosmic dessert, we will provide some other treats to help you analyze just how much your taste sensors have been fooled.
All these rewards for the scientists among us makes you start to wonder what you get from a B.A. in anything else.

Monday, 8:04 pm

UPDATE: This was unearthed in Morning Mail archives

Don't have any Pi Day Plans? Want to get more involved with WiSE by mentoring other girls pursuing STEM fields? Then come to the Science Center on Monday, March 14th for candies, goodies and a whole lot more! There will be a WiSE Mentor Information session from 7 to 7:45 PM and then a collaboration with MathWiSE for Pi Day festivities from 7:45 PM to 9 PM. See you there!

…this should be exciting.

Monday, 7:55 pm

In everyone's favorite shrine to science, a massive celebration for pi day is getting underway. All table surface in the great room is covered in various sticky sweet flavors of pie. And who ever said you're not supposed to eat in libraries?

In other Science Center news, it turns out that you have to sign in so they can track usage of the space to subsequently apply for grants … to provide excessive amounts of food.

Sunday, 9:01 pm

In an ironic twist, built perfectly for the SciLi, the beeping noise of the elevator is loudest in the Quiet Center. Though it's probably because the acoustics of the wide open room lend themselves to echo, it would almost make sense if it were intentional.

Friday, 4:39 pm

Two species are native to the Rock steps: rogue squirrels, conformist hipsters

Retrospective: TFTF in Words

Tuesday, 11:50 am

Desperation on the walls of the women's bathroom.

Tuesday, 8:04 am

"Crossover hour" commonly refers to the well-documented time between 9 and 11 pm, when early and late studiers converge, creating a traffic jam of sorts in the basement. There is another, less researched convergence of studiers though that takes place daily, particularly as we head into the height of midterm season: the early a.m. shuffle.

Between 7 and 8 am, the divergence in college student study habits can easily be observed. Still lingering, bleary eyed, are the all-nighters. They can be identified by papers strewn about, stress and sleep in their eyes, and a fierce determination to just get it done. They've been here since late last night, and time is running out. Marching in with a different kind of determination are the early morning anomalies, the ones who forced themselves out of bed with six different alarms in order to start working at the ungodly hour when everyone in their dorm is still sleeping. They can be identified by large, imported coffees (the cafe is out of commission till 8:30 am), copies of the NYT swiped from the security desk and exploding backpacks that say, I mean business.

Guest Thoughts From The Frisc

As a foreign exchange student, I bring to TFTF a whole new perspective. After all, as an outsider, I have nothing to gain or lose from providing a painfully honest opinion about the Frisc. It's not like one of my closest friends blogs about this thing every day. Like I said, nothing to lose.

When entering the Frisc, I am first confronted with a typical academic lobby, complete with stark decor, a kitchen-like snack store (a liberal food outlet for a liberal arts education), and some seating areas. But who cares about this because there is also a security check point. Yes! Guards put on duty specifically to keep people like me out! Fortunately, Emmy has already outfitted me with my own false identification, so I was able to breeze through. Well, I wasn't able to swipe Jessica's I.D. through the first time, but that's mostly because anything that resembles a metro card swipe stresses me out.

Next, Emmy whisks me into a metallic elevator after nearly walking into one of the other elevator's fast-moving doors. THOUGHT #1: If Hermione Granger is to Brown Student, then Frisc Elevators is to Death Eaters. The elevator eventually rises to the 14th floor or something, also known as the highest point in Providence. THOUGHT #2: I imagine the highest student in Providence smokes a joint, and then sits cross-legged on the 14th floor of the Frisc.

After disturbing some of the highest students in Providence, we make our way down to what's called the "Quiet Floor." No, not because the floor absorbs all sounds, and is thus a "quiet" floor, but because you literally are not allowed to speak on this floor. This also means you cannot accidentally have your "Bad Romance" ringtone go off, which is ostensibly tolerated on other floors. Cough, cough.

So after disturbing some of the "Quiet Floor" patrons, we head to Emmy's lair: the basement! On the way there, the elevator door smacks some young gentleman in the face. THOUGHT #3: SRSLY, these elevators will EAT you. We, however, make it to the basement unscathed.

The basement is a sassy mixture of 70s disco decor, lawn chairs, space-age disco decor, girls sitting provocatively, Mac products, snoring students, and more. It goes without saying, but this place is heavenly. While here, we tried out all sorts of study nooks, including the aforementioned lawn chairs, and then a sexy group study room that was really meant for groups of three or more students. THOUGHT #4: Charlie Sheen would totally hog one of these study rooms to himself.

But thoughts #1-4 are really my way of dancing around the main issue: Can I do work in the Frisc? Yes! Yes I can! During the one or two hours I spent in the Frisc, I was able to be pretty damn productive! And that's acknowledging the fact that Emmy and I had to switch locations because the lawn chairs were literally located on the sun. To the Frisc, its patrons, its sassy decor, and the random white guy after whom it was named, way to go! A+

Sunday, 5:01 pm

The SciLi lobby is for group project meetings.
The Rock lobby is for Writing Fellow conferences.

I want no part of either activity.

Friday, 9:35 am

One of life's great mysteries: Why must we sign into the Science Center?

Wednesday, 8:54 am

The Frisc is at its most peaceful before 9 a.m. — sunlight streams in through the zen garden, the chairs are arranged in perfect order, there are barely any people around. There is one thing though: at approximately 8:45, the daily vacuuming begins.

Monday, 9:18 am

On rainy days, it can be very tempting to call in sick.

Sunday, 11:31 am

Children of the SciLi

Recently, an influx of young children has been noticed in the SciLi: A four-year-old hanging out at the basement computer table, a toddler jumping on the red blocks in the lobby, an elementary-school-aged student wandering around the Science Center. It's not unusual to see high schoolers in the lobby with their SAT tutors, but we've been skewing younger these days. The SciLi is basically a playground, so it does make sense...

Saturday, 3:45 pm

The removal of the scary elevator signs can mean only one thing: the asbestos has been removed from the 14th floor! Shot not going to check it out...

Saturday, 11:06 am

It is a new era in caffeine availability! For the past three years, the lobby cafe cart has persisted in opening at noon on weekends, birthing a real conundrum for many SciLi users: If you made it here on Saturday morning, chances are, you needed coffee. But behold! The cafe now opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

And for those of you who are no longer on meal plan, a symposium on something scientific is happening on the third floor and there are snacks and coffee. I may have no interest in brain science or whatever it is they're going on about, but I also have no shame in taking advantage of free caffeine.

Wednesday, 5:30 pm

It's after 5 pm. Do you know where your kids are?

Answer: They're in the SciLi.

The basement is bumpin'. We're talking, multiple people at every table, no available computers, noise exceeding decibel "suggestions," at least one printer jammed.

The Science Center is full of advisers, review sessions and weird snack food.

And even up here in the "Quiet Center," it's packed. But in a shocking turn of events, it is actually quiet. Maybe painting the walls purple and hanging cutesy signs about silence is all it takes to remind people that we are actually in a library. Well, that or the butterfly-shaped structure in the center of the room. Winged insects must be approached carefully and quietly.

So what's to blame? A short week means five day of homework condensed, perhaps. The start of midterms is also upon us. And finally, it's "warm" enough to stomach walking here, not to mention the newly de-iced sidewalks. (Falling with a backpack is both painful and awkward, and makes getting up difficult.) Or maybe everyone's just trying to get it in before the clock strikes 9 pm. After all, it's Wednesday, and though we no longer know what exactly that means, it must mean something…

Wednesday, 4:29 pm

Well, that's worrisome.

Monday, 12:51 am

Kicked out of the CIT (my preferred serious study space) because of weird-ass long weekend hours, I have descended into the bowels of the SciLi. Although I'm not a professional Frisc-ologist, I feel like Sunday nights are usually super-peak crazy hours, as the homework the Brown student body has collectively put off all weekend suddenly crashes down all around us. As we celebrate the birth of our favorite commanders-in-chief this long weekend, however, most of Brunonia is putting off Sunday night's work until Tuesday, and the Frisc is desolate. Truly desolate. We're talking 1 AM on Spring Weekend Saturday. From the cluster in 25 decibels, I can distinctly make out carpet-muffled footfalls from all the way in 00.
— Gene Goldstein-Plesser, Guest Columnist

Thursday, 10:33 am

As predicted, there is a huge increase in attendance as class periods shift. Though desks remain plentiful, there is a line for the printing computers and the printer itself, well, you don't even want to know.

Thursday, 9:09 am

It is officially an acceptable hour to be in the basement, and yet, barely a soul is in sight. Several people stopped by to print in time for 9 a.m. class (that article you were supposed to read for today? Yeah, it does look like you "read it" if you have a copy on hand.), but alas, they have all gone. Perhaps we'll see another uptick at 10:22 a.m.?

Wednesday, 3:05 pm

Despite strong allegiances to the bowels of the Frisc, vigorous work on a social science thesis has forced relocation to the stacks of the Rock.Amid the rows and rows of books, a different kind of etiquette exists. Unlike the Frisc or its prettier cousin, the Rock study room, the stacks are a place of isolation, silent solitude and real work. So here are a couple grievances that need to be issued about behavior on the fourth floor of the Rock:
  • If your music is so loud that your ears are vibrating, that probably means that everyone with a five-carrel radius of you can hear exactly what's going on. While I don't think you should be embarrassed about listening to the Glee soundtrack, you should turn it down.
  • Finger tapping, rainboot squeaking, paper crunching. Look, library time invites fidgeting. We're all culprits. But perhaps you could fidget more quietly.
  • When walking down the aisle of carrels, keep your head up and look straight ahead. Stop trying to read what I'm typing. Yes, I am making fun of you. You can read about it from your own computer.
Save the noisemaking, socializing, spying, creeping, eating, giggling, movie watching, loud music and shoe tapping for the Frisc. We're here to work, people.

Sunday, 6:14 pm

Once upon a time, the fourth floor of the Sciences Library contained rows and rows of books, as libraries often do. Then, it underwent a transformation — no books, fluorescent lighting, vast open spaces with no furniture. Basically, it looked like an airport hangar. And then it closed.

But now, it's back, and there's a new, bold vision:

Gone are the days when a library can just be expected to provide quiet. Now it must be designated. And this new fourth floor is going to welcome silence in style.

The furniture is curvy and cushy, following the model set in the floors below. The large tables resemble those of the Science Center, though the method for cordoning them off from each other is … unique. A large butterfly-like structure occupies the center of the room — which is still vast and open. New study rooms occupy the left-hand wall though.

Perhaps the most noticeable stylistic element is the color. Rebelling against the highlighter brights of the Frisc though, Floor Four has a softer palette, with a very heavy emphasis on purple. SciLi, are you trying to tell us something?

Friday, 9:26 am

Entering the Rock has always had logistical challenges. Can you hide that full travel mug of coffee in your backpack? Can you sneak an entire meal past the watchful gatekeeper?

This week, a new set of obstacles faced Rock goers after they had trudged through the snow, uphill, for five miles, in order to reach their thesis carrels.

Naturally, we did our journalistic duty and peeked behind closed doors (or, uh, barricaded areas) to see what's up next for the Rock.

Coming soon to a guard-free entrance near you, an electronic swipe card reader that activates swinging glass doors. Importing your coffee may now be easier, but we're taking bets on how long before someone gets stuck in that subway station-esque entrance.

Tuesday, 10:52 am

With the cafe carts closed until classes resume, will we be forced to resort to importing hot water heaters and coffee makers? When combined, the frigid cold temperature of all Brown libraries and a desperate need for caffeine may create the situation that drives us all to insanity.