During my time at Fairfield, regardless of my academic year, the Dimenna-Nyselius Library has felt like a second home. On any given day, I can be found in the stacks with my omnipresent cup of coffee, digesting another week’s worth of historical texts and primary sources. I quite literally cannot imagine maintaining any level of academic success without the library.

However, the purpose of this piece is not necessarily to urge Fairfield students to take advantage of the extensive services provided by the library, however helpful they may be. Nor is it yet another plea to consider the importance of public library resources to the health of communities. Rather, I wish to call attention to the unique position held by the DNL, and indeed all college libraries, as a symbol of constancy in the lives of students. I want to talk about the library as an institution that exists in our minds.

Admittedly, much of what made libraries so important to college students in the past has become redundant today. Gone are the days when the library was the only place for a student to conduct their research for papers and projects. After all, academic journals are plainly visible for all to read on the internet, just as most library books can be accessed in an online format from the comfort of a residence hall room. The university provides us with access to these materials to peruse from wherever we please. Yet still the popularity of the library persists. Why?

There is much about the college experience that changes from year to year, be it classes, housing, or extracurricular activities. The average student might find that there are aspects of their campus with which they will never interact in the course of their four years. Not so with the library. Like it or not, it is an integral part of our education as students at an institution of higher education.

Of course, it is possible to carry out one’s academic responsibilities in other settings, many which might appear more comfortable than the library at first glance. The sacrosanct nature of the library, however, quickly proves itself indispensable whenever a world of distractions, both real and virtual, must give way to thoughtful effort on the part of the college student. 

One of the best opportunities to witness the power of the library as an institution occurs during the last few weeks of each semester. An observer need only watch as hordes of students flood a building that, while frequently utilized, has been comparatively “quiet” for much of the semester. Suddenly, assignments that have been satisfactorily completed in residence halls, lounges, or elsewhere are entrusted to the providence of the library. The significance of final papers, projects, and exams compel students to flock to the DNL, where they evidently feel comfortable completing such important work.

The benefits of the library need not only become tangible during finals season. The library is a sacred space all year long; it simply does not become apparent to most until the once distant rigors of finals become all too real. It is where procrastination and escapism go to die, where students are finally freed from their distractions and allowed to apply what they have learned in the classroom. 

Do not all assignments deserve the careful, considered touch that so many students only afford to their final projects?

The library is an institution that bonds us together, regardless of major and academic year. The beauty of a space where we all agree to temporarily suspend the endless party that is college is truly profound.

In 2022, a college library is not necessarily valued by the amount of information contained within its stacks. Rather, it is the place where the most distractible generation of students yet can work to maintain their education with real efficacy. 

Develop a healthy appreciation for its value while you can, because just like the rest of our experience, it only lasts for four years.


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