Battle of the libraries

Students debate over one of the favoured topics in Arts Building, which library is the best?

The Berkeley, Seán McElroy

Undoubtedly, the Berkeley library is an underdog in this debate. Cut off on the periphery of the BLU set-up, this vast concrete monolith can seem like a trek to get to, and at best is a glum and dusty recess sealed off from any of the supposed brightness of Trinity life. However, this opinion could only possibly be held by someone who does not truly understand all the glories the Berkeley library has to offer.

For a start, its detachedness is by no means a disadvantage. Rather, it results in the Berkeley almost always having some space in it. It is never packed out by the blow-ins and layabouts who swarm the Lecky for its ease of access, nor is it filled to the brim with all those who stuff the Ussher, craving its luxor and lavish design. Instead, the Berkeley is frequented only by those who recognise what truly matters in a library – having somewhere vaguely comfortable to sit, and where you can sometimes charge your phone. Not only that, but you can pretend to others that you have some profound interest in brutalist architecture, which those who go to any other library simply don’t appreciate.

Aside from giving you this all-important false superiority, it can’t be forgotten that going to the Berkeley has to be among the most convincing pieces of evidence that you aren’t just going to spend the next few hours procrastinating. If you have the steadfast courage to venture up among the Berkeley’s harsh grey walls, that’s a sign that you mean business.

Ussher, Aisling Lee

You’re walking into the Ussher library, crossing from the library shelves to the study desks. Have you ever looked up, on your right hand side? The glass panes of the four floors glisten on either side of you. It’s sleek. It’s modern. It’s stylish.

The floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the bright green cricket pitch. So even though you’re here to escape distractions and get down to work on that assignment, you don’t feel completely cut off from the world. Lift your head, take a breath, look outside. It’s the next best thing to stepping out for some fresh air, with the added advantages that you don’t lose your train of thought or find yourself getting chilly.

It is notable that the Ussher is the warmest library. Even better, there’s a socket at practically every seat. A major advantage, over the Lecky in particular, is that there are no people just passing through chatting. Now that you all have read this, the only problem with the Ussher will be the difficulty is getting a seat.

Berkeley – Law Section, Cian MacLochlainn

If you have ever wondered where the legal eagles of your entourage disappear to for hours at a time, then have a browse on the first floor of the Berkeley. Once you ascend the stairs, the hustle and bustle of the counter reserve will be blanketed by silence, with the odd disturbance caused by a page turned in those eye-watering thick legal texts.

The Berkeley’s harsh exterior is belied by its interior and the Law section is no exception. Leather seats with adequate back support are a welcome greeting to those studying on miserable winter mornings. At the centre of the entire floor is what can only be described as a bullpen of sorts. Three rows of two-way desks sit under the dizzying ceiling of the building and its angled skylight. This may explain the healthy glow exhibited by Law students while the rest of the Arts Block cohort seem to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.

If you wish to study free from any possible distractions then this should be your library of choice. For Law students, it’s a no-brainer, but that should not exclude any other Trinity student. Sitting next to anyone in this library makes you work better and faster, as they make you feel guilty for slacking off.

If the intensity of the bullpen is too much, there is an abundance of more secluded desks scattered around the floor with an adequate source of natural light and those comfortable leather seats. A recommendation seat would be the desks that are by the window overlooking the Ussher podium if you need to give your weary head a rest from studying, the view offers a welcome release. Like the rest of the Berkeley, the first floor has the comfiest seats out of any of the libraries, an abundance of sockets, and the right balance between seriousness and comfort.

Lecky, Katie Lynch

When it comes to choosing a library to settle into, the Lecky is by far the most convenient. Proximity is not to be sneezed at in our busy lives, and the Lecky delivers every time in this respect. Not only is it accessible through the main entrance, it is located in the heart of the Arts Block. We all know how difficult it can be to motivate yourself to study, but the Lecky is so handy that this first hurdle seems much more doable.

The Lecky also provides the best work environment. The other writers will tell you that their respective libraries have an atmosphere more suitable to serious study, but this position is easily contested. I’ve spent too many days in the Berkeley – which alternates between being suffocatingly hot or shatteringly cold – trying to piece together the history of the Dutch Republic while a man drills a hole in the ceiling. I’ve wasted too much time travelling from the heights of the Ussher to the invariably distant resting place of a required book, only to realise upon return that another is needed. The Lecky is a comfortable space with a reasonable amount of stairs and a blissfully regulated temperature for all your study needs.

The Lecky is a place where you are welcome regardless of the nature of your work. You can be one of the elusive owners of those PhD desks or a first year doing your first ever Italian translation. The Lecky is the library of the people and it’s time we give it the recognition it deserves.