The 5 People You’ll Meet In An Oxford Library

Image description: People at desks line a college library, with books behind them.

If, like me, it’s taken you till 6th week to work out that the college “library” is not the most efficient place to study (curse the pull of Pret breaks and fresher gossip!), this is the “article” for you.

Allow me to make a bold suggestion: why not try a university library? It’s a big, bad world that promises peace, productivity, and plenty of obscure books from obscure reading lists. Here’s the definitive guide of the people you’re likely to meet along the way.


  1. The Loud One (*insert any activity here, e.g. typing, drinking or, God forbid, breathing*)

Yes, you saw this one coming, but don’t berate me just yet for a lack of imagination, because I’ve done actual research on this one. On Wednesday 26th January 2022, at approximately 20:48, the Facebook powerhouse Oxfess put out this damning remark: “Oxhate to people who type obnoxiously loud in the library”. How I very much agree with you, oh dearest author of #oxfess11400. How am I meant to procrastinate in peace if all I can hear is the smug clickety-clack of productivity?

The scissor-key-action of the MacBook 3000 can only be topped by the sippy-slurps from a sea of “suitable containers” – worst of all offenders are the small-spouted glass and cork KeepCups, purchasable only at the Broad Street Bodleian Shop.

But no malactivity – not even  loud typing, loud drinking, or loud breathing – could ever top the final boss… for in the depths of the underground bunker into which Bodleian staff no longer dare to venture, a lone muncher delights in a packet of BBQ-beef flavoured hula hoops, breaking the charged silence with clandestine crunches. Apparently it’s now socially acceptable to eat in the Gladstone Link because “no one even does work down there anyway”.

Disclaimer for legal purposes: it’s obviously ok when I do any of these activities loudly, because I’m busy and stressed.


  1. The Couple

What’s worse than one intolerable person? Two. 

You walk into the Lower Bod on a Monday morning in 6th week, only just recovered from Saturday’s bop and hoping to find a free desk, when, to your horror, you see there is but one remaining…

The one next to The CoupleTM.

Strike 1: They’ve pulled a second chair into the one-person cubicle, leaving absolutely no room forJesus.

Strike 2: They’re whispering affectionately in a way that should never be appropriate, least of all in  A LIBRARY.

Strike 3: They’ve each resorted to typing with one hand so that they can carry on holding hands. Ghastly.


  1. The Fellow

You’ve decided to branch out. After the trials of the Rad Cam and the Old Bod, you’re in desperate need of a library that’s got a little more *spice*. You settle on the Vere Harmsworth Library. Jackpot, it’s deserted. There’s only one other person there, but you can’t really make sense of them – where’s their laptop? Where’s their tote bag? Where’s their expression of impending doom?

They’re surrounded by books and you watch as they peer into their brown man bag over steel-rimmed bifocals. Ah. Now you realise. A balding white man in a tweed blazer and felt blue waistcoat – they must be a fellow. Whatever a fellow even is.


  1. The Romantic(iser)

They’ve been looking out of the window slightly too long, and from the wired headphones snaking up their turtleneck/trench coat/boots combo (the AirPods they got for Christmas are just not the vibe right now, ok?) you can just make out the melody of “motion sickness” by underground new-comer Phoebe Bridgers.

You’re intimidated and impressed. The age-old question presents itself: to be her, or to be with her? You pause your all-important tute essay research to take a Buzzfeed quiz and find out.

The romantic(iser) is most likely to be found in the Voltaire Room of the Taylorian, for no other reason than because it’s called the Voltaire Room. Alternatively, they might be sat in the English Faculty Library; even though it’s objectively ugly, the brutalist architecture stirs their yearning hearts and affirms their belief that they were born in the wrong era ://


  1. The Ally

Wresting your eyes away from any one of these eclectic specimens, you survey the room, and suddenly, out of the corner of your eye – can it be? – yes! There’s another person who’s also witnessed the monstrous behaviour you’ve just observed. Your eyes lock across the crowded room of bookworms and mouth-breathers. You share a wry smile of recognition, gazing a little too long, and at last turn back to your desks. Was this a meet-cute? Will you ever see each other again? Might this be the day you finally have an Oxlove written about you?

You take a stroll past their desk, under the guise of a loo-break, hoping to glimpse more of this mysterious stranger. Unlucky. One look at the Christ Church puffer and that’s it, the ick has arrived. You decide to return to the college library for good.


Image Credit – Davide Cantelli