Nov 14, 2023

A Love Letter to Strozier Library

Before attending FSU, I managed to get a job shelving books at Strozier library. I spent my first summer as an 18-year-old in a freezing cold room sorting books onto carts, and then taking those carts to their respective floors and shelving for hours. It was during these long bouts of wandering and searching that I found myself having a sort of existential crisis.

“In the past 30 seconds I walked past more books than I’ll ever read in my life,” I thought. This was a nagging sentiment that stayed with me in the corners of my mind through my years of on-and-off work in the library.

I separate my time working at Strozier into three distinct eras; pre-Covid, through Covid remotely, and “post Covid” when the library reopened for in-person work. I’ve seen the hidden guts of the building, the restricted sub basement section, the flooded basement, and have indulged in many a mid-shift cigarette break around the benches and tables outside. The stacks have seen me through three failed relationships, one successful long-term partner, and about a hundred friends.

Unfortunately, over my years of working there I’ve seen patronage decline. Less people ask me where books are, more asking about printers, and, at the risk of sounding like some decrepit old man, I wish it wasn’t like that. I wish more people would appreciate the simple hilarity of being in a library, walking up and down the aisles as I have and discovering the small absurd treasures often hidden within them.

I remember finding a half shot-gunned Red Bull next to the business journals and laughing because I could imagine exactly the type of person who left it there. I remember two girls who walked up to me and asked where they could find a book on religion and that the only memory they had about it was that the cover was “sort of blueish.” I remember spending a full shift helping them look for it. I even remember falling down the front steps with my headphones in and looking up to see a tour group of freshmen and their parents trying to hide their laughter and failing. Aside from the stadium on game-day the library is the heart of campus. It’s where we go to study or caffeinate or get inspired by stories from the students that came before us.

I came across a copy of Frankenstein in a Goodwill recently and bought it for a class I was taking. Upon opening it I found an FSU Strozier stamp on the first page right below the handwritten words “stolen from.” It was a moment of irony that felt a little bit like fate.

I sent out my two weeks’ notice for August 18th, meaning that by the time this is published an era spanning almost 4 years of my life will have come to a close. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe it’s just the urge to tell anyone I can, but visit Strozier. Not even just to study. I mean wander the stacks and ask questions like “which books have the prettiest covers” (nonfiction on the 5th floor), or “which section of shelving is the most haunted” (PN section also on the fifth floor), or even “what water fountain works the best” (third floor by the front elevators). Or even better, find a random book and check it out. Pull a cliché and judge it by the cover if you have to. There are books on LSD, and cowboys, and even how to tell if someone likes you or not. It’s always freezing cold or way too hot but being able to have a gateway to any story, any answer, any lifetime at your disposal is not one that should be overlooked.