The infamous ASS: A survival guide to Bristol Uni’s edgiest library.

As an innocent young fresher, it’s easy to make the mistake that all university libraries will be safe, quiet places to settle down and get some work done, away from the constant noise of uni halls. It was only during my first trip to Bristol Uni’s Arts and Social Sciences (ASS) Library that this idea proved itself to be a naive misconception.

The ASS isn’t just a library - it’s a way of life. It’s a meeting spot for all of Bristol’s edgiest Arts students who swarm together in a convoy of socks and sliders and disproportionately large puffer jackets. If anybody ever tries to tell you that your Arts degree is a doss then, whatever you do, do not take said person to the ASS library because their point will be proven before you even pass through the threshold of the building. Outside of the ASS, the pavement is covered with about a dozen no-smoking signs, on top of which stand huddles of students with rollies loosely dangling from their mouths as they engage in this act of rebellion.

However, it's not until you have truly spent some time delving deep into the depths of the ASS that you realise you have made a dreadful mistake in ever going there at all.

As you pass through the gates of hell, you will notice that you have a choice. There are many paths which you can choose to take at the ASS, and it can be easy to be distracted by the more attractive options. The idea of lounging in the café flicking through your copy of The Riverside Chaucer, kidding yourself into believing that any of it is actually going in, may seem like a great idea at the time but, believe me, you’re better off in the silent study area. So, you make your way up the stairs to the second or third silent study floors which, if you are as unfit as I am, will be a challenge in itself.

You’d have thought that since libraries are not generally a hangout hotspot, there’d be plenty of seats available in the study spaces. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. After several walks of shame shuffling through rows and rows of taken-but-empty seats, you’ll soon realise that those kids smoking outside of the ASS did not only obstruct your way into the building, they have also claimed several empty seats inside. Their puffer-jacket-draped seats and tobacco-sprinkled-desks are enough to tell you that even though they will probably be absent from this seat until the library closes at 10 pm, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

If, after all of your searching, you are fortunate to find a seat in the ASS, you’ll probably last about five minutes before you realise how horrendously cold it is in there. Unless you came armed with several jackets and blankets, your study session will become a case of writing furiously and tapping your feet on the ground just to keep yourself warm, much to everybody else’s annoyance. Still, at least rapidly writing for warmth will mean that you get some work done.

Eventually, you will come to realise that unless you want to put up with sub-zero temperatures and the fear of ending up on the ‘Overheard in the ASS’ Facebook page, you’re better off keeping your head down, grabbing the books you need and heading to Bristol’s Hogwarts-esque Will’s Memorial Library.

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