The VJC library is an interesting place, to say the least. Even before you enter it, you know where you are by the sheer number of bags at your feet.

As you approach the library, whether by ascending the stairs near the general office, or proceeding from the back of the Concourse, the first thing that strikes you is the school bags all over the place. Some are stashed into cubicles on the walls barely big enough to hold them. Others are strewn haphazardly on the floor, trying their best to stay within the marked red lines.

The library is definitely a conducive place, if not the most conducive place to mug during recess or breaks. It fits the bill for a “mug-spot” in nearly every way — air-conditioning, chairs, tables, wi-fi (okay, it’s SWN, but still.) Megan Quan, frequent user of the library, commented how even though the library environment is (let’s admit it) “comfortable for sleeping”, she is still far more productive in school — “I won’t sleep as long as compared to sleeping at home”, she remarked.

A group of friends, who wanted to be known as the Beyonce Girls, agreed with Megan on the… conducive library environment. “We go to the library because it is quiet and not too hot or too cold — perfect for sleeping!”

(“And for doing work…” they added — as an afterthought.)

Nevertheless, the authors assert that the library is still conducive for studying — just look into the library to observe the swathes of bent heads over books, reading intently. But if the library is a preferred studying spot, then why are bags, the all-important vessel and carrier of our notes, not allowed to pass through the hallowed point of entry that is the double glass doors?

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The no-bag policy irks many Victorians. A sizeable proportion of the J1 students, when asked about the library, replied casually “Oh, I don’t mug there.” Indeed, the ban on bags inside the library has caused inconvenience to the J2 students cramming ahead of their tests.

“It seems very easy to just take your notes out of the bag and bring them in,” said one of the J2s, “until you have to mug multiple subjects. Then there is a problem.” Indeed, leaving our bags outside the library would mean having to rush out to retrieve items — and having to leave the air-con for those precious few seconds. The Beyonce Girls do not understand the policy either — they remarked that it is annoying to “go in go out go in go out” of the library should they forget to bring something in.

Most J1 Victorians know about the no-bag policy inside the library, the result of many a hushed whisper from the seniors “No bags! Put them outside!” when first entering the library. But most of them were not aware of the reasons why. The Victorian Press compiled a list of theories from students.

  • “We might bring food in and have picnics.”
  • “We might bring playing cards in and have taiti session in the corner.”
  • “We might bring explosives in. They scared of terrorist attack.”
  • “We might steal the Time or Economist magazine and sell it.”
  • “We might bring books out without borrowing them.”
  • “We might bring PW stuff out and then maybe actually pass PI.”
  • “Oh wait, what if it started out as somebody’s PW…?”
  • “They are scared that bags around might block people’s way as people might trip over and die.”
  • “We might use bags to chope seats if we run out of tissue packets.”
  • “They are scared that the bags take up too much space, because people are getting fat so no space inside Library.”
  • “The librarians don’t want us to be bringing so many bags into the library — everyone’s already bringing eye bags.”

Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to ask the J1s during PW season — they might be ideating a bit too much.

Nevertheless, an interview with Vincere Lee, a member of the Library Council, shed some light on the official Library line on this matter. “Bags are not allowed as this ensures that users do not hide books in their bags and take them out of the library without borrowing it.” Furthermore, while it may be convenient to bring bags into the library, Vincere points out that with this policy, those wishing to study within have to be more selective in what they bring into the library. Perhaps this could help students focus on whatever they are studying at the moment?

Additionally, the no-bag policy ensures that the library is not cluttered up — Vincere explains that there is “not a lot of room between tables to place bags”. Megan remarked that she feels that the library is “cramped” when there are a lot of people studying — allowing bags inside the library could worsen the situation.

The authors suggest that an alternative to the library could be the study room right beside the library — there are individual cubicles for studying from 8am to 6pm, and the opening hours extend to 9pm during examination periods. Better yet — bags are allowed! 🙂

Nevertheless, do not fret — even though the no-bag policy puts off some Victorians, the library is still a very interesting place to explore. Apart from the wide range of books the library has to offer (look out for the books that date back to VJC’s opening in 1984!), the Library Council also plans events, such as their major event, Escapade, towards the end of Term 2 — look out for more!

All in all, the library in VJC is still one of the better school libraries around. Even if you may not find it as much a convenient place to study as you would like, don’t let that stop you from patronising the Library and making good use of the resources there, as well as lending support to the Library Council and their activities.

Just don’t bring your bag in while you’re at it.

Ryan Ch’ng, 16S47

Wong Jean, 15A12

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