West Side Wilson

The Western Washington University library was built in 1928, and has many additions since then. Wilson library has five floors, and numerous places to study and get work done. The first floor of Wilson has a cafe called Zoe’s Bagels, a tutoring center, along with multiple rooms and open spaces to work with other people and get help on homework. The next four floors house an expansive collection of texts on floor to ceiling bookshelves, organized by the same system utilized in the Library on Congress. There are desks spaced evenly all around the edges of each floor so students can look out the windows as they work. While the middle floors offer adequate conditions to do homework, my favorite place to study is on the fifth floor of Wilson library.

The fifth floor provides the best view of Bellingham Bay. It is a designated quiet space, so students maintain a sense of understanding that there should be no talking and virtually no interaction in this space. While the perpetual quiet is intimidating to many people, I find the silence comforting and conducive to productivity. It is easy to lose track of time and get lost in the view of the bay, especially on days when the sky clear.

The path to get up to the fifth floor has a couple twists and turns, but the trip is well worth it. The stairs are pretty skinny, allowing just one person at a time ascend, rather than pairs. This is fine since people really only use the space for independent study. There is a space on the right hand side as you leave the stairwell with desks and couches facing the lawn on the North side of the library. Continuing further will lead you to the West side windows with the great view of the water as it bumps up along the coast of downtown Bellingham. There are desks spaced so that each one looks out a window. Typically, there are plenty of seats to choose from when you arrive, unless it’s midterms or finals week and people value studying alone more than in groups.

The fifth floor is labeled as a designated study space, so there is no way to mistake its purpose.

This place is always virtually silent, meaning people understand it is not a spot where they can talk to each other or make too much extra noise without being disruptive. A certain level of noise is acceptable when first coming in and getting settled, but too much other than that may be uncomfortable because the silence makes it seem like every move you make is amplified.

The fifth floor can be compared to other environments where the goal is to be relatively silent so other people can concentrate on what they are doing. This could include testing environments, bookstores where people are trying to read, churches during prayer, etc. Any scenario where there shouldn’t be any talking or extraneous activity can be related to the fifth floor of Wilson library.

I really appreciate this space because I know that every one else there knows how to operate in here. Most people that study on the fifth floor do so because they like the environment and don’t mind having to negotiate the silence. There is a mutual understanding of the noise each person has to make when they arrive, adjust, or leave. It’s just excess amounts of noise that drive people crazy. I would suggest studying on the fifth floor of Wilson library because the quiet space is good for concentration, the view is nice if you want to take a break from your computer screen, and the silence isn’t too intimidating if you are willing to take a stab at it.

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