The PCL’s ‘Summertime Sadness’

By Juan Alvarez

The PCL fifth floor appears to be a ghost town during Summer 2017. Photos by: Juan Alvarez

The fifth floor of the PCL, or the noisiest floor of any UT library has become a ghost town of empty chairs, ignored books and lonely outlets. An empty fifth floor, which just a few weeks ago had overflowed with occupancy for finals weeks, means no more viral video moments and hardly any collaboration.

The fifth floor is named “The Collaborative Columns” because it’s the only floor which its entirety is devoted to group work and chatter. Because of this floor not having to abide by typical library silence, it has become a popular study spot among students during fall and spring semesters. But during a summer session, fewer students are enrolled, so fewer students visit the PCL’s fifth floor.

Senior Government Major Samantha Shoff taking advantage of “lonely outlets” on the fifth floor.

“I like it better crowded,” said Samantha Shoff, a senior government major. “I can’t stand dead silence.”

Shoff said that she prefers the PCL’s fifth floor during the fall and spring semesters because it’s where she can be social but still get a lot of work done. She also said that she cannot stand too much noise and will normally leave the floor late at night, when the floor starts “flooding with more students.”

Shoff is enrolled in both summer sessions, but said she would most likely only use the floor during the first session. When it comes to finding an outlet, Shoff said “it’s way better now,” and also said she would absolutely leave the floor during the fall and spring semester immediately if unable to find access to a plug.

Unlike Shoff, Julia Serna and Heidi Shay said they normally do not study on the fifth floor because it is too loud during fall and spring semesters.

Two students enjoy casual conversation, Chick-fil-A and silence on the fifth floor.

“I know that it’s summer there wouldn’t be as many people so it would be quiet,” Serna said. “But we’re also still allowed to talk if we want to.”

Shay said they would probably be studying on the fourth floor of the library during a regular semester. “We usually don’t go to the fifth floor because it’s way too loud,” Serna said.

Even staff members can see the change of population. PCL employee Christopher Deems said that there is a dramatically different amount of students in the library during this current summer sessions and sessions in the past.

“We get different types of patrons,” Deems said. “Typically we see more courtesy borrowers, which are people that have an Austin Public Library card.”

“There’s a lot less students overall,” Deems said. “So, it dies down a bit.”