What annoys you the most at the library?

'The entire study space smelled like fries and chicken nuggets'

UB irritatie foto DUB

It’s the last week of May and it’s warm outside. Even so, pretty much all seats are taken at UU's city centre library. Some of them are occupied by diligent students while in others there is only a coat to be seen. In the aisle, two students are walking as if they were on a fashion show, pausing in a casual pose every now and then to catch up with a friend or fling. Halfway down their runway, DUB finds the History student Zara (21), who is reading with a rather strained face. She accepts our invitation for a coffee break down the hallway and starts laughing when we ask her if she ever gets annoyed by others while studying at the library. You bet she does!

“I love that you're allowing me to vent for a bit,” she says, proceeding to mention the parading students in the aisle next to her desk. “That's not good for my ego, you know,” she laughs while pointing at her own messy bun and red university sweater.

She then mentions a classic library pet peeve: people who aren’t really studying. “If you don't want to study, then don’t come to the library!” But what really grinds her gears is the coat opposite from her that seems to have lost its owner all morning. Or people who are constantly on their phones watching TikTok. “Sometimes they have the volume all the way up. Or worse: they use those cheap Ali Express earbuds where the sound just bursts through.”

UBB studieplek begane grond foto DUB

Shitty earbuds
Those cheap earbuds annoy Valentina to the core (24, Nutritional Science). She’s also studying on the fourth floor. “If others can hear the music you are listening to with your shitty earbuds, then bro, you don’t belong here.” The other day, she experienced something even worse than that. “A guy sat down next to me, carrying an extra keyboard. Okay, I can process that. But it wasn’t just any keyboard, it was some hardcore keyboard with big keys that were loud as hell. And then he started typing as a maniac right next to me. You can’t possibly be that much of a nerd?”

Sascha (22), a third-year Psychology student, refers to another infamous annoyance: people occupying the spot she reserved online, even though they do not have a reservation. “It launches me into a vicious circle of stress. I’m too embarrassed to ask them to leave, which results in me having to sit in a spot I did not reserve, constantly afraid that someone will come and throw me off of my seat.”

But there is one thing that makes Sascha’s hair stand on end with a passion: the way some people eat while they study. Crunchy things really wind her up. "Today, a guy from my class started eating a red pepper, very casually.”

Afra (24, Museum Studies) agrees that people's eating habits can be extremely annoying, especially if their food smells. “Today, someone just brought along a bag of MacDonalds. The entire space smelled like fries and chicken nuggets. I'm a vegetarian, I almost had a meltdown."

Gherkin juice
While victims suffer in silence, perpetrators are anything but quiet. They don't hesitate to tap on the desk, snort or read out loud in a whisper voice. Mostly, people think that offenders just don't know any better but DUB has found out that having such faith in humanity isn't always justified.

Raaf, from University College Utrecht, who asked DUB not to publish his real name out of reputational considerations, reveals: “I'll tell you what: the mood in the library is just so depressing. Anything you do soon feels like too much. So, I like messing around with that a little bit.”

For example, sometimes he drinks wine from a water bottle while he's at the library. In the last exam season, he and his friends took increasingly weird snacks to the library, such as crisp iceberg lettuce instead of an apple, or a one-and-a-half litre jar of pickles. "Then we'd go into that jar with our hands and they would drip gherkin juice all over. Really gross." Just thinking about it makes him laugh.

UBB irritaties  foto DUB

Tips for when people annoy you at the library
Unfortunately, it is not allowed to throw someone out of the window. You can't take advantage of someone's toilet break to crumble an entire bag of onion-flavoured crisps into their brand-new Longchamp bag, either. So, what can you do? DUB asked the students to offer some advice. 

Valentina: “I think the best option is to just say something about it.” She never does so herself, though. The same goes for Afra, Sascha and Zara. “I’m afraid to,” Zara confesses. Sascha and Valentina prefer to avoid confrontation too, no matter how passionately they may get annoyed. So, all that's left to do is stare at the culprit as angrily as possible. Sometimes that helps a little bit.

Zara: “Noise-cancelling headphones work wonders against noisy neighbours. They’re a great solution.” However, not every student can afford that. Afra, for example, has to make do with cheap earphones from Albert Heijn. They might just cause her to get angrily stared at by Valentina one day.