I’m William Repetto, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the “‘Cat in the Stacks” column. I’m your ‘cat. I’ll be posting about college life, about learning and growing here at Villanova, and, of course, about the Falvey Library’s role.
“Or let my lamp at midnight hour
Be seen in some high lonely tower.”
– John Milton, Il Penseroso
“Towers, and battlements it sees
Boosom’d high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure of neighboring eyes.”
– John Milton, L’Allegro
“‘Cause somebody stole
My car radio
And now I just sit in silence.”
– 21 Pilots, Car Radio
Harry Potter Halloween celebrations, a Presidential Lecture Series talk, and a book signing by a campus author: these are just a few of the goings-on at Falvey this week. While many students do come to the library for our events, many more have been coming to the library to utilize our spaces and services. From Old Falvey to New Falvey, from the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room to the Holy Grounds coffee shop, students have been filling up the library.
In this week’s post, I’d like to think through why students come to the library simply to use the space. Residents have their own dorm rooms; commuters have their own apartments or houses, so why spend time at the Falvey Memorial Library? The answer has to do with these poems and lyrics above and with the diverse types of spaces found under the Falvey roof.
I’ll study here just to be in the same room as that massive painting on the wall. https://t.co/rPc2lgxXRh
— Christian Leithart (@cleithart) October 19, 2016
Let’s start with our first poem, and test it against our newest space – the renovated reading room. In Milton’s Il Penseroso (the contemplative man), the narrator hopes his candles might be seen from afar flickering in some secluded tower. The reading room offers similar comforts. Open 24 hours a day, and entirely silent for all 24 of them, the reading room provides contemplative students the chance to find some solace in peace and quiet, two qualities never guaranteed in the dorm or at home.
The passage from the L’Allegro poem, meaning roughly “the happy man,” deals with seeing a happy, beautiful city in the distance. Later in the poem, at this site, the narrator attends a festival of plays and music. The city of L’Allegro corresponds with our first floor and Holy Ground area. In these spaces, students can find camaraderie and collaborative study that is not so silent and contemplative as those in the reading room.
If you don’t believe that these spaces really have merriment, like the plays and music of L’Allegro, I’d ask you to come by some of the events at Speakers’ Corner. From book signings by Elizabeth Kolbert to panels on saving the environment and also Harry Potter readings and quizzo, the first floor offers the exciting happenings that make the city so attractive in L’Allegro. The merriment adds some flavor to studies that certainly cannot be found elsewhere.
While the last lyrics selected may seem to stand out markedly from Milton, 21 Pilots provides an excellent description of New Falvey’s second floor. Car Radio deals with the internal thoughts we have about achieving our own potential. In the rest of the song, the narrator comes to the realization, “I know it’s dire/my time today.” Students on our second floor have realized this as well, and they position their studying as close to those support systems that help countless students achieve their individual potentials as possible.
The second floor features the offices of our resource librarians, the Writing Center, and the Mathematics Learning Resource Center. Students wise enough to utilize these resources have decided to turn off the distractions and tune into the opinion of an expert in a given field. Whether they’ve studied math or English or nursing, the experts on this floor help students hear the thoughts behind the music, ultimately assisting each student in reaching his/her potential.
These lyrical passages may seem randomly selected and disparate, but I assure you they aren’t. Each of these selections deal with pinning-down an exact nature of the human psyche. As with many deep questions of human nature, the answer is somewhere between all three of these descriptions. Some take pleasure in silence and contemplation, others need companions to share their knowledge with, while others still find simultaneous anxiety and potential in the removal of distractions.
The staff at the Falvey Memorial Library understands that students of many different needs and habits utilize our spaces, and for this reason we’ve provided so many different types of environments, each one designed for reaching your potential.
Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.
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