Julia and Alex think "library culture" is a misnomer, but I think it fairly describes the results of the library's being the center of social and academic life at the U of C. For many students, including Miss Self-Important, whose opinions count double, the library is a second home. Its versatility allows one to eat (ex Libris), sleep (everywhere), read (books), write (MacLab and USITE), study (everywhere), socialize (A-Level), date (4th floor), hook up (stacks), etc. And, given the convenient proximity of BartMart, Bartlett, and the Reynold's Club, one may even "go out" in the evenings for a change of scenery. Entire lives could be (and probably are) lived in the Reg! Imagine what effect it has on the student body when studying becomes the conduit for all other experiences. That is the essence of library culture, as a Maroon article lamenting the closing of the A-level, notes: "The A-level had a certain mystique among late-night studiers, attracting students who never left Regenstein as well as those who rarely opened their books." Everyone knows that after 5 pm, the Reg becomes the pulse of the university. And Harper--the prime destination (along with the McCormick Lounge, now also conspicuously devoid of comfy seating) for a between-class on-campus nap. The cozy temperatures and soft recliners that would lull even the most determined reader straight to sleep--no more. Now it's an uncomfortable freezer designed to make Harper sojourns as short as possible. No more napping in public places! says the U of C.
Why all these sweeping changes? Because library culture is not good for recruitment. Imagine telling a promising high school senior that if he comes here--oh boy!--he can expect to spend all his waking hours in or around the library, that everyone does it, that this will be fun and satisfying and worth his while. No, if we want to steal some of Northwestern's matriculants, we need to direct people to more "healthy" destinations in the evenings and deprogram their instinctive library drives. As if. It's a conspiracy and everyone knows it. No one's going to go to this mythical "Crerar" place. They're just going to go home and be normal. LAME. (Moreover, in order for us to be able to go home and be normal, we'd need to be assigned less work. Has anyone informed professors of this situation?)
*Actually, it's only closed until 2009 or 2010 or something, but let's be real. That's a whole generation at a university. A whole generation who will never know the agonies and joys of staying up until 4 am in the basement of the Reg during finals week, surrounded by rank B.O. and coffee cups and annoying, obnoxious frat boys and sorority girls who dress up for the occasion of studying all night. A whole generation who will never have to strip naked in the