Lauinger Library: Home to Georgetown University’s sleepless students and over a million books. 5 floors. The campus’s main library.
Maybe there isn’t a diverse opinion on Lau. But no one feels neutral about it.
We all sort of make fun of it I think, but in an endearing way. Feeling lausy? Need somebody to lauhve? Launely studying? (That one is a stretch, I know).
It is where we commiserate. Where we have the attention span of goldfish on the the second floor (Lau 2 is the greatest enemy to productivity the world has ever known.) Where it takes a comfortable hour to settle into a productive mindset. Where I used to go to get away from the distractions of the internet (when I didn’t know how to connect to SaxaNet– which, upon reflection is probably the easiest thing I’ve done at Georgetown…).
Let me paint you a picture: decaying pages. Musty shelves. Molding spines. Broken covers. Well-loved books and the smell of stale knowledge. But wait, you might think: knowledge can never become stale. It is eternal!
Well, go to the Lower Level of Lau. Close your eyes. Inhale. Take a whiff. That, my friend is stale knowledge, I might retort.
The second floor– actually most of Lau, most of the time– bleeds random pools of sugarless coffee stains, especially around finals. And, as a I shuffle past rows of occupied cubicles or climb the cavernous stairwell, or hear the robust winds whipping against the third floor reading room at 4 am, I have a weird feeling. In a perverse way, it is a little magical.
Some of the best and worst, and weirdest, things you do in college will be in that space. To students, to me at least, Lau will be one of the few places you feel that fraternal companionship that binds all people together in the hours of late night/early morning, with 5 more chapters and 3 more papers still to go. You’ll laugh in the quiet room. Sometimes because you are doing something in that room that is completely inappropriate for the room’s intention (drawing, watching Vampire Diaries…). But sometimes you’ll laugh because if you weren’t laughing, you’d definitely be crying.
To me having Lau among a cluster of architecturally diverse and beautiful structures is funny because it shows the dichotomy of design and feelings at this school, which make Georgetown nothing less than what it is as a whole. The library is part of the composite whole. To the right of Lau is the glorified Healy Hall, built in Collegiate Gothic style. It is undisputedly beautiful.
Then the 70′s came. And an architect who I originally assumed shared a design-sense with Hitler, designed Lauinger Library as a “Brutalist” rendition of Healy Hall. If they are related, they are distant cousins. And Lau is still the adopted red-headed step-child of that family.
All jokes aside, I know when I graduate (assuming that happens), I will look fondly at Lau. I do now. Partly because it is something so unique to this campus. It is so Georgetown. It looks like the architectural embodiment of fascism. All angles. Dark grey. Few windows. Menacing. But as much as we, as a student body, gripe about it, I wouldn’t want a shiny new, characterless, sterile library.
Moreover, I think Lau, looking the way it does and being the way it is, tells me something about learning. As cool as the gagets could get, the best and most important part of a library, classroom, church, or any building for that matter, is what happens on the inside– what the individuals bring to it. We, albeit begrudgingly, bring ourselves to Lau. That being true, how could I hate the place?
Sure, I’m only a sophomore. But right now, I’m happy with the strangely comforting smell of old books and coffee stains that are so common in that odd eyesore of a building. If you come to campus through the front gates, look to your left, in the far-cast shadow of Healy.
Once you see it, it’s pretty hard to miss.
-Lucy Gibson, Untamed Voices Staff Writer
Image Sources: http://thestraighttorquer.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/geurgetown-university-library.jpg