Alice Mao

Dear Various Loud Library Patrons, 

It’s me, hi. I’m not the problem, it’s you. 

On a recent, truly terrible Wednesday night, I found myself in need of a deeply quiet study space. On the heels of a physics exam and eve of a biochemistry exam, I headed to Bass Library. I’ve spent too much time in the stacks. Starr is still somewhat of a no-go, given my experiences last spring. And this year’s first years have somehow decided that residential college libraries are stand-ins for experimental, avant-garde social clubs. 

I situate myself in the back corner of Bass, lower level, at one of those sad little desks with the dividers where the only light comes from the fluorescent strip that resembles my father’s under-cabinet workbench lamp. I sit down with the seven lectures I need to review, a book full of notes, and two practice tests. I have the machinery primed to execute my plan. Review keratin, collagen, and silk, then Ramachandran plots and, finally, my amino acids. I. Am. Ready. To. Biochemistry.

“Dude!!! That’s sick!” 

Okay, I’m still primed. I’ve got this. I will not be nervous for this exam. I have all the tools I need to succeed. I will not drink three cups of coffee tonight. 

“Wait, bro, say that again? I couldn’t hear you!” 


I put my noise-canceling headphones on (I’ve upgraded since last spring, when AirPods weren’t enough). I’ve graduated from train sounds; instead I have Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto on, the one with the smashing cellos entering like French New Wave cinema in the 1950s. I cannot explain how bloody loud this music is. I am sitting in the literal bowels of Bass Library with twenty fortississississimo instruments being piped into my skull, and yet:

“BRO!!!” followed by full-volume laughter. Poor Rachmaninoff. If only he knew his virtuosic music would be humbled in the face of cluelessly rude first years. 

Now, dear readers, I’d like to point out here that I am by no means a confrontational person. I hate conflict. I have a hard enough time correcting my coffee order, let alone approaching a gaggle of first-year boys imploring them to PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, COUNTRY AND YALE BE QUIET. But the present circumstances have left me no choice. I emerge from my sad little cave in the corner at 9:15 on a Wednesday night, turn around and realize that there is a ring of boys, no less than twenty in number, bro-chatting just near the stairs. These individuals are not studying. They are not moving. There are no laptops, p-sets or notebooks. They are not speaking the language of the library, rather the language of RUDENESS. They are Harvard students, in my eyes.

“Hey, I don’t want to have to do this, but this is a library. It is incredibly distracting, not to mention rude. There are any number of places on this campus you could be having this conversation, but here is by no means one of them.” I already know my cheeks are stoplight-red, but I am so beyond livid it is wild. 

They say nothing — aha! I’ve got them! But they offer no apology either. Are they ashamed? Mad at me? Humbled? Who knows. I turn around and go back to my corner. I put my headphones back on. 

But then, I hear it, in the wake of Rachmaninoff’s final crescendo: “Dude, she’s so annoying.” 

You know what? Fine. I’m the annoying library-goer who ruins the party and spoils everyone’s fun. Boo-hoo. But you know what else? There is, in fact, a far better place to have a full-on chat on this campus. Or whisper-yell over your neglected Econ p-sets. Or call your mother, or your brother, or your suitemate who’s making a trip to the liquor store for this weekend.

Funnily enough, I, too, have a social life. I have friends who I enjoy laughing with and yelling at and genuinely messing around with. It’s not as if I hate noise in general. But I also know that if I am in Bass, Lower Level, Starr or, for that matter, any library on campus, surrounded by people deep in chemical structures, readings by philosophers and linguistics homework, I would almost rather be hit by a Yuttle than put up with your mindless twittering. Almost.

So here it is, once and for all: disrespectfully, please shut up, and now, as an addendum — get out. 


Literally everyone that’s ever gone to a library to actually do work, ever. 

Anabel Moore edits for the WKND desk. She previously wrote for the WKND, Magazine and Arts desks as a staff writer. Originally from the greater Seattle, WA area, she is a junior in Branford College double-majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the History of Art with a certificate in Global Health.