Stereotypes by floor of the HBLL


BYU students’ study spots in the Harold B. Lee Library are often selected based on the environment each floor provides.

“It depends on which kind of studying I want to get done,” said Taylor Smith, a student from Layton, Utah studying communications studies.

Smith’s sentiment is a common response for many who go to the library often. Along with each floor’s environment comes a stereotype, and according to the BYU students who were interviewed, each floor of the library carries its own particular stigma.

The first floor is the basement of the library. It has been under renovation this year, but there are still places to study. It is a place where people are removed from distraction.

The five floors of the Harold B. Lee Library have a distinct environment, which come with a few stereotypes.
The five floors of the Harold B. Lee Library each have a distinct environment, which comes with a few stereotypes. Photos by Sarah Hill; Graphic by Brad Davis

“I go to the first floor for finals week,” said Brooke Higginbotham, a student from Pittsburgh. “I don’t get reception down there, and I don’t need my phone because I am usually not doing group projects. I really don’t like going to the first floor because it reminds me of finals week.”

Jacob Selman, an environmental science major, also avoids the first floor except for certain occasions.

“I know some people go to the first floor because they want to get stuff done and they don’t get service, but I like to stay above ground,” Selman said. “I do like studying on the first floor in the atrium during the summers, though, because of the natural light.”

The second floor is primarily known for two different things: the Periodicals Room and the classical music played in the south end.

“I almost always study in the Periodicals,” said Zoe Smith, a business management major. “Sometimes I’ll study in the maps section if I am feeling adventurous. I also like the second floor because I enjoy the natural light.”

The Periodicals Room recently added a fireplace to create a warm and relaxed environment. This relaxed theme is consistent on the second floor, as the south end of the floor plays classical music for those who want to listen to music while they study. The environment transitions from a relaxed theme to a more social environment as one approaches the third floor.

The third floor is the entrance to the library. The front of the floor is where The Hub for freshmen is located, along with a computer lab and an area that is popular for group meetings; it is also the only floor where food is allowed. The back of the third floor is known as the “No-Shhh! Zone.”

“In my freshman years, I would study in the ‘No-Shhh! Zone,’” said Dan Murphy, a business management major. “People go there to socialize, hit on girls and bring their food. Also, some people will go to the back and take naps.”

The name “No-Shhh! Zone” is somewhat self-explanatory — people are free to talk as they please and discuss their studies or other topics.

“The third floor is convenient, and also it is a good place if I want to be more social. I can do homework, but also talk,” said Jessica Godfrey, a senior and lab consultant in the multimedia lab of the library. “If I want to really focus then I go to the fourth floor, and that is also where the multimedia lab is located.”

The fourth floor is where the Juvenile and Asian collections can be found, along with the music and dance section. This floor is a place where people can have a brief conversation with friends before getting back to focusing on their work.

“I feel like the people who go there actually study, and it is quiet. Plus, I am too lazy to go to the fifth floor,” Murphy said.

When surveying BYU students, the strongest stereotype was most commonly known in regard to the fifth floor.

“If I don’t have a lot to do, and I kind of just want to socialize, see people and do homework on the side and it is not first priority, where do you go?” Smith said.

The response, in unison with Smith and two others, was “the fifth floor.” The fifth floor is known for its social aspect, even though, like all floors, people can accomplish a great deal of studying with determination.

“I have a friend who would go to the fifth floor, see who was there, maybe socialize and then leave,” Smith continued.

Guys claim that the fifth floor is a way to meet girls.

“I used to go to the fifth floor my freshman year,” Selman said. “I’ve talked to lots of people, and they said that the fifth floor is where girls get asked out by random guys.”

Whether these stereotypes are accurate or not, each floor has a distinct environment; some are more or less conducive to studying.

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