With finals season steadily creeping up on us—much to the chagrin of my Main Green hang-out time and Faunce Step gatherings—it is once again time to consider the age old question: Rock or SciLi? Now at this point in the year, I would truly hope that each and every Brown student knows which two buildings I speak of: the one that is sky-high and painful to the eyes, and the other, stout and equally painful to the eyes. Yes, those buildings. While each library has its traditional stereotypes, I thought it would be appropriate to update the framework and introduce a newly-minted metric for your finals period study plans.
With its inviting concrete floors, endless rows of stacks, well-stocked food cart and perpetually dysfunctional (albeit ergonomic!) desk chairs, the Rock is the spot for the student who enjoys a more low-key vibe, but likes to get shit work done. From the prison-cell, isolation chambers study rooms on the Second floor to the Penthouse with its sprawling and surprisingly impressive views of the Manhattan-esque, Providence skyline (we all have the right to dream), the Rock is for the studious, the bold, the hipsters, the prepsters and is occasionally the home of a nightclub (luckily not one associated with Coliseum or Ultra). The carrels of the Rock promote focused study, but be aware of the overly-confident thesis writers who won’t think twice about stating that it is his/her spot (and obviously something about the level of stress he/she/phe is experiencing). Though you may have the occasional run-in with a grad student (yes, we have graduate students at Brown), they will consider you an inferior species and merely walk past you without acknowledgment or consideration. If likened to a group of musical artists, the Rock would be Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver and Fleetwood Mac all rolled into one: it is classic, but it does have an edge of reflection (ßBon Iver) and collegiate vitality. If likened to a former WWE fighter, it would be the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, without a doubt (disclaimer: I have never watched a WWE fight, only the “Scorpion King.”)
Unlike its rival on the West Side (of campus), the SciLi is for the more sociable Brown student who enjoys spreading their relatively little amount of work over the course of the entire night. Often dubbed the SkyLi, SciLi City or the Sciences Library (a truly terrible name), the SciLi beckons those who either love the sciences or hate doing work. Though the basement of the building offers ‘absolute quiet’ space, do not be fooled by this marketing scheme. The basement is all but a trap for the studious Brown undergraduate, as the printing of a ten-page reading at 9pm can soon evolve into a 5am Louis’ run. While the upper floors of the 14-floor behemoth can offer solace from the Friedman Center madness, be careful in your floor selection, as that too carries a flurry of additional stereotypes—we all know why you study on the 13th floor (it has the nicest bathroom on campus). Despite this somewhat critical analysis of the SciLi, it is indeed a remarkable space for study and some say that its views rival that of the Rock. Like the Ratty, Brown students enjoy the SciLi for what it is, rather than what it could be, and as such, spend many an hour cranking away on p-sets and response papers for City Politics. If you haven’t been in the SciLi, shame on you…shame on you. At the end of the day, can you play Tetris on the Rock?
Though only a brief delineation of the main libraries on the Brown campus, I hope it informs your upcoming study spot decisions. At the end of the day, whether it’s Rock or SciLi, no one will judge you…to your face.