Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Study Spaces in San Diego Reviews (Part I)

Since I have been living in San Diego for about a year and a half now as a full-time graduate student, I have become quite familiar with the workings of San Diego's study "scene." I will try to review some of these spots for fellow San Diegans - grad students - or anyone else who might be interested in doing some scholarly work here in "America's Finest City." My current location and my first review will be of UCSD's Geisel Library.

Geisel Library
designed by William Pereira, addition by Gunnar Birkerts

When you spot Geisel library in your approach to the UCSD campus it looks like some kind of UFO that has landed on earth. It is a suspended trapezoid with inverse pyramid-style floors—each successive floor jutting out just above the other. It is quite often that such drastic and shocking looking architectural pieces are stunning from a distance but not so stunning in their use-value. This is not the case with the Geisel library. In my opinion, it is just as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. From my favorite spot on the basement floor, where the Film and Media library is located and the Art and Architecture Collections are also located, you would never know that you were in a "basement." Study tables at the edge of the stacks are facing an indoor garden of palms with a ground floor skylight that filters direct sunlight into the lower level. As I look up from my desk right now I can see the clouds float by a Eucalyptus tree on the ground floor. A clean, modern design that supports all the current technological needs (outlets at each desk, film screening room, etc.) is perfect for studying-- not to mention having an amazing collection of books and media at your fingertips!

A couple of downsides: first, if you are a visitor (not a student, staff or faculty of UCSD) you need to request a wifi login before you can access the network from your laptop. secondly, parking is not easy on this campus. There are a couple of metered spots near the library but all are almost always taken. A day pass to park on campus costs $6, but the good thing is that you can park anywhere and can stay as long as you like without having to worry about your meter expiring. Lastly, if you are one of those types of people that cannot work in extreme silence then this is probably not the study spot for you. Here there is a deadly silence. It is so silent that I can actually hear my thoughts. For me it is wonderful for a couple of hours until I begin to be hypnotized by it.

That is about all that I can report as far as the downsides go. The circulation dept is very generous with keeping overdue books. I just returned books a month late and need to pay a meager $7. Now, if only they could adopt the blockbuster motto - No late fees!!

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