In a way, Robarts is like Hogwarts — not only does its name sound slightly similar, but it also has new rooms to discover, hidden corridors to stumble across, and a bit of magic around every corner.
Well, scratch that last bit.
For those of us who use this gigantic cement turkey as a home away from home, we’ve learned to accept Robarts as a looming presence in our university life. In order to extract some light from the general gloom that encompasses these long, arduous study sessions, here is a ranking of every floor in Robarts Library.
The 14th floor — 2/5 stars
When James Cameron landed at the bottom of Mariana’s Trench, he described it as a desolate landscape and a distant “alien limbo,” but he also could have compared it to the fourteenth floor of Robarts. It’s a confusing maze of hallways that zigzag around different cubicles, seemingly trying to encourage you to find a different floor to study on.
The 13th floor — 3/5 stars
If you’re superstitious, obviously you want to stay away from the thirteenth of anything. Nevertheless, this floor gets brownie points for the semi-majestic staircase that winds its way onto the middle of the twelfth floor. On a busy day, make like Hermione Granger’s arrival at the Yule Ball, and saunter elegantly downwards to your enamoured study-buddies.
The 12th floor — 3/5 stars
This is a nice one. Silence? Check. Bathrooms? Check. Cell service? Sadly, no, but that’s alright — it has a pretty lovely view of the city from the southern end if you can fight your way to a coveted window seat.
The 11th floor — 1/5 stars
The eleventh floor would be nice, had somebody cared to provide the desks with chairs. I find myself standing up as I write this. Do not study here.
The 10th floor — 4/5 stars
There is no clear difference between this floor and the twelfth floor. In fact, the two are eerily similar. Silence? Yes. Bathrooms? Yep. Cell Service? Oh wait, there is cell service! Lo’ and behold, the tenth floor has a minimal but ever-present cellular connection, just barely edging its way past the twelfth floor in ranking.
The 9th floor — 3/5 stars
Once again, we find ourselves in the bleak midway section of Robarts, where every floor and passed-out student looks oddly similar.
The 8th floor — 5/5 stars
The eighth floor is a world of mystery and hidden treasures. Other than the impeccably named Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong library, this floor is also home to a prayer room and the East Asian Studies Library. The Richard Charles library is a haven of vibrant colors and charm — which is refreshing coming from a building that has the colour range of, well, 50 Shades of Grey (I am so sorry). In the back, you’ll find round orange sofas that are accompanied by a view of western Toronto. If you can bushwhack your way through the thickets of the densely shelved East Asian Library, you will find yourself in a cozy little study area looking out on to the back of our sacred turkey’s head.
The 7th floor — 5/5 stars
I made the mistake of going up to this floor around 10:40 on a Thursday evening. Having forgotten that the upper levels of Robarts close around 10:45 pm, I quickly found myself stuck on the seventh floor without means of escape. After having to call the Robarts main office, a begrudging security guard came to retrieve me, utterly bewildered by my lame reasons for being here (“I, uh, thought it was a different floor”). Unconvinced, he escorted me to the staircase, surreptitiously revealing that this floor is the central agency for ITS (Information Technology Services). It is basically the powerhouse of the university, the same way that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell (shout-out to grade 11 science; I haven’t forgotten you). He then went on to remind me, at least five times, that this place was under no circumstances open for students. Illuminati? Maybe. Either way, sounds fishy.
The 6th floor — 1/5 stars
The sixth floor is also a “staff-only” floor, albeit with comfy chairs, a fridge, and WAY nicer bathrooms. However, it is only accessible to students via the staircase — staff may use the staff elevators. This floor would have ranked nicely had I not been intensely out of breath by the time I got there.
The 5th floor — 2/5 stars
If you want a quiet, secluded area to study in, do not pick the fifth floor. Having ventured up to this floor mid-afternoon, I was met by the on-and-off sound of what sounded like a power tool coming from the enclosed “staff only” area. This was quickly followed by disembodied giggling, and then by nasty looks from the plethora of students trying to study. The word ‘plethora,’ as in, holy-mother-of-God it is crowded up here, comes to mind. I would have given this floor bonus points for the abundance of outlets, but there will be no outlets for you. They’re all taken.
The 4th floor — 3/5 stars
We now find ourselves venturing closer and closer towards the Robarts core. Within minutes of stepping into the large study room via the escalators, I spot at least five vaguely familiar faces from tutorials past. The fourth floor is pretty crowded, too. However, if you edge your way to the perimeter, behind all the bookshelves, you may be lucky enough to find a spot to settle down.
The 3rd floor — 3/5 stars
The third floor is a mixed basket. On the one hand, this floor is blessed with the library’s largest bathroom, and that’s not to mention the Media Commons, which is like the Room of Requirement for film students everywhere. However, come exam time, the study room is so jam-packed with stressed out students, you can almost visualize the tension in the air. This floor is recommended in small doses; spend too much time here and a nervous breakdown is in order.
The 2nd floor — 4/5 stars
Food. Need I say more?
The 1st floor — 5/5 stars
We’ve finally hit Ground Zero.
The first floor is actually great, because if you find yourself without a computer, no problem – this floor has plenty for you to use. Other positive aspects include a well-kept bathroom, solid Wi-Fi connection, and, best of all, a quick exit from this godforsaken library.