Where the Book Things Are


Harry Fairhurst

The men and women of Fairhurst are a twee folk. Insouciant, highly sociable and found primarily in small packs. When a Fairhurster finds themselves separated from the group, they will sit alone at a table which seats four or five people whilst the rest of the library is entirely full. Nobody quite knows why, but it royally sticks in my craw and no mistake.

Architecturally speaking, Fairhurst is a preposterous, post-modernist adventure playground run on the principles of 19th century American anarcho-individualism. The inhabitants of the Fairhurst frontier live by just one rule; that of “no zone but the studious buzz zone”. A rebel people, proud and brave, if often asleep, those who frequent this part of the library firmly reject the tyrannical values enforced by Morrell.

Ragtag dreamers, exiles and people who get a bit of a bonk on over interactive whiteboards and booths with flat screens are all welcomed within its walls. In Harry Fairhurst it is not only legal but actively encouraged to be in possession of a studious buzz, particularly with intent to supply. Its denizens scorn their bitter rivals in Morrell, mocking their lack of bean bag chairs and shortage of vending machines, never seeming to realize that you have to get up at 3am to secure one of those bean bags and that all of that open plan space that the architect was probably very proud of is essentially just going to waste, which is why it’s virtually impossible to get a seat at peak times.

Above all though, Fairhurstians value their freedom. Their freedom to walk about, their freedom of speech and their ability to easily buy and then eat a packet of quavers without the person opposite looking like they’d happily see them flayed alive.


JB Morrell

A grim, totalitarian dystopia run by semi mythical overlord JB Morrell, the master of silence. In the JB quiet zones you can hear them whisper that “JB is always watching you”. In the silent zones you hear nothing but the occasional, brief whimpering of somebody who’s finally snapped before being dragged away for disturbing Morrell’s perpetual and total peace. Some say they are taken to meet the man himself, but nobody knows for sure.

Built on three floors, Morrell is an endless, hodgepodge maze of shelves, different zones, computer suites, study rooms and work desks. I’ve never even been on the top floor, so god knows what’s up there. Architecturally speaking, it has the look of third class on a turn of the century cruise ship, only obviously with bookshelves.

The average Morrellian is docile and thoroughly peaceable unless disturbed, at which point they can become highly irascible in a quiet, giving-you-the-death-eye kind of way. Normally clad in coffee stained pyjamas, these bleary eyed wanderers between the shelves keep a fierce vigil over their sovereign territory. Morrell’s main resources are books and dust, whilst food and drink are scarce and in some areas, forbidden, with disciples of JB often being forced to venture down to the library cafe when the need for sustenance arises.

Morrellian’s dismiss their neighbours in Fairhurst as feckless loud mouths, existing in a state of perfumed decadence akin to the last days of Rome, viewing themselves as the last bastion of order and justice in these increasingly uncertain, loud quaver eating times.


Raymond Burton

Initially believed to be an urban legend perpetuated during the exam period which spoke of a land where space was aplenty and no weary library goer was forced to work on the floor.

Burton is a small, passionately independent state loosely comprised of a seminar room which never seems to actually host seminars, a couple of quiet reading rooms and a handful of reference collections.

If the Raymond Burton library were a teen archetype, it would be a hipster. Too cool to be a part of the mainstream Fairhurst-Morrell dichotomy. These are people who preferred the libraries’ early stuff, back when it was in touch with its roots and before, y’know, it went all Hollywood. For this reason, Burtonites can often be heard uttering such phrases as: “I study in Raymond Burton, you’ve probably never heard of it”.


Borthwick Archives

With its entrance located just beyond the Raymond Burton library, little is known about the Borthwick Institute for Archives. Rumour has it that it stretches down beneath the University in a vast subterranean labyrinth, inhabited only by legions of C.H.U.D, Morlocks and a Balrog awoken from its eternal slumber by digging too deeply and too greedily into the earth.

Borthwick institutes a security system on a par with Fort Knox, almost no personal effects can be taken past the reception area and the temperature within the search rooms is kept at a level roughly comparable to the Murmansk seafront in mid November. What the archives actually contain is unclear, but it is believed that all of our completed dissertations eventually end up residing deep within the bowels of Borthwick.

I personally choose to believe that somewhere in the lower reaches of the archives they’ve got a Department of Mysteries style set up with some kind of hall of prophecies containing the results of YUSU elections and the college cup for the next one hundred years.