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Not just for studying: Library renovation lets us imagine alternative activities

By Graham von Carlowitz, Columnist

Have you ever entered King Library and thought to yourself, "Now this, this is where I picture a dance party?"

While the rest of the first floor is carpeted - even the chairs, one could say - the lobby area and its marble floor offer a suitable venue for slick and sliding dance moves.

I first noticed this "hip" potential for the lobby after returning from winter break. The area previously showcasing the Howe Center for Writing Excellence - or what I affectionately call "Howie" for short - was apparently not up to par, and as such, underwent some spring cleaning during winter term. The renovation is ongoing, a back-order of light fixtures the only obstacle yet to be overcome.

And so, for now, Howie does its business down the hall to the left of the renovated zone. What remains is a void in lobby-area activity, leaving the marbled marvel alone and subject to change.

One such change is the promotion of loud talkers. While Jerry Seinfeld took issue with low talkers and close talkers, I'm nominating loud talkers as the Boisterous Annoyance of the Year at Miami.

They have found a home, these loud talkers. Not only do they creep about and carpet the lobby floor like talking moss, abusing the speaker-phone function, but they aren't even the guilty party. King Library is responsible for the tumultuous talkers, enabling them with a "Noise-O-Meter" that essentially advertises yelping.

In its overzealous pursuit to improve the library, King has endorsed activity that contradicts its integrity. Noise-O-Meter has bastardized the notion of "quiet study" and begs visitors to trample about the lobby carefree.

Considering the new dance move I wish to boast - a three-second handstand - I'd especially love to embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mock library culture. Fittingly, my motivation has a back story.

Long ago, around age nine, I was an unsuspecting little rascal in grade school who was scolded by the school librarian for turning my mouth into a noisemaker, wagging my tongue in all directions at will.

She clearly misunderstood this as an act of defiance, although my only intention was to make my more studious classmates burst into laughter. They didn't. I was reprimanded nonetheless, and I've held a stigma against libraries ever since.

Today, King Library not only offers a haven for such wild charades - and God knows I've abused the haven - but it also represents the liberation from suppression.

Just as the fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in a procession of subdued East Germans, so reveals the library renovations a crack in the wall, an opportunity for ushering freedom.

I understand that, unlike the reunification of East and West Germany, order will be restored to a boisterous King Library in due time. The wall will return, and Noise-O-Meter will come down. But that day is not yet upon us, so let us make much of that time! Carpe diem, you know?

A dance party would be a nice way to seize the day and wrap up Howie's renovations, sending the Noise-O-Meter off on a memorable note. Entertaining the thought of a dance party to get back at Mrs. Brown, my librarian, is especially satisfying because disturbing the studious is practically a given.

Then again, maybe you've never thought about the lobby floor like I have. After all, a Noise-O-Meter has never before greeted guests with permission to break long-standing library laws.

But, it's there right now, a time for inspired thinking, a time to say to yourself, "Maybe not a dance party, but maybe an ice cream party, or a kitten concert (open to interpretation), or a scream-until-you-faint contest, or…"

The possibilities are abundant. That's why King supplies suggestion cards. You can find them right there. In the lobby. Waiting for us, the students of Miami University, to take action while we still can.