It’s one of the many questions my followers have asked me that I’ve never had the opportunity to answer.
“Cassie, what exactly do you do at work?”
Well, I’m glad you asked.
For those of you who are new to the blog or who’ve simply missed out on the updates about my job, I work part-time at the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library (known by everyone normal as “Bobst”).
Bobst Library, according to its official website, is one of the largest academic libraries in the country, with over four million volumes on its shelves, and an even larger number in an offsite storage facility. It also houses Fales Library, the Avery Fisher Center, and a separate digital studio.
Working at Bobst is an interesting experience. It takes an extensive amount of part-time help to keep the library running smoothly, and the process is split up into a number of teams.
For instance, my job is to work the Circulation Desk (the main front desk where items are checked out and most customer-service problems are handled), the Exit Desk (we’ll get to that later), and the Reserves Desk (where professors put textbooks on hold for their students and where students can study from those books for anywhere from two hours to three days).
There are between twenty and thirty part-timers who work the same desks as I do, and we work under two supervisors. The other departments, such as Fales and Avery Fisher, have their own part-time help for their specific libraries.
In Circulation, the most complicated desk (in my opinion) in the entire library, we receive hundreds of returned materials on a daily basis. Some of these books are ILLs (Inter-Library Loans that need to be returned to their appropriate library), some are Transfer Books (from other libraries within the NYC Universities that we work with individually), some are Offsite Books (books that need to be transferred to our offsite facility, where many of our rarely-used materials are held), and most are circulating books that need to be returned to their shelves.
These books are placed on a cart, which we later sort onto giant shelves behind the Circulation Desk based on their call numbers. Bobst has 12 floors, 10 of which hold library materials. The shelves correspond with the floor. Once we finish sorting the books, another team of part-timers (who don’t work with us) pick them up to be shelved.
Still other books are placed on a Preservation Shelf to be taken downstairs (we have two lower-levels) for repair. These books can have bed-bugs, mold, pencil and pen markings, be ripped or torn, or have spinal issues. All of these are red flags for Preservation.
Sometimes, when books are turned in behind the desk, a receipt automatically prints for a “hold”. This happens more frequently in an academic library than in a normal, leisure-reading library. Many students are often vying for the same book so, often, when one is returned, another student will immediately need to check it out. The receipt that prints is placed in the book, and the book is shelved alphabetically behind the Circulation Desk based on the last name of the student waiting to pick it up. Between 100-200 of these holds come in throughout the day.
Aside from handling books that are returned, Circulation also handles check-outs. The loan time for academic books is much longer than the average two weeks given at local libraries for leisure reading. Academic loans can last anywhere from two weeks (in rare occasions), to 60 days (for most undergraduates), to 120 days (for most professors and graduate students).
Of course, those numbers are drastically different on Lower Level 2, in the Reserves Section.
As I explained before, Reserves is basically a resource for students to check out practice exams, classroom textbooks, collections put together by their professors, and dry-erase markers for study rooms. It’s the ultimate resource desk. Also, it keeps me (and other students who are aware of its existence) from having to buy any overly-expensive textbooks.
The Reserves Desk is significantly less hectic than the Circulation Desk. Most of the work involves receiving call numbers, finding the right materials, and delivering them to the patrons at the desk.
Even more simplistic than the Reserves Desk is the Exit Desk, located upstairs in the lobby. The job of the person in the Exit Desk is to check the stamps on all library materials before patrons leave through the revolving doors.
Hundreds and hundreds of students funnel through this single exit on a daily basis, but you’d be surprised at the amount of downtime the person working the desk actually gets. The first few weeks, I made the mistake of venturing out without a book in hand. Trust me, I regretted that decision.
I suppose this post didn’t really end up taking shape the way I imagined when I wrote the title. I won’t change it, because this is part of an “intimate” series that will take you through a week in my life. But I will say this. If any of you ever have any questions about what I do or how I spend my time, please feel free to ask in the comments. It gives me an endless stream of ideas for the blog, and I can always use those.
Update: The poll has been officially closed. I will be posting a story on my decisions toward the end of February. Thanks for all of the input!
Since I’ve managed to drag all of you along on my journey to afford NYU housing and it looks like we’re going to make it happen, I thought it only right that I get your opinions on my housing options.
That being said, we are going to go on a brief tour of each option, where I’ll outline the pros and cons of the choice, as well as my reasoning for liking or disliking it. I’ll also attach a photo or two for each building.
At the end of the post, your job is to vote for your favorite. The poll will be open until March 2nd, when the application is due. I make no promises but, odds are, the top three “voted for” housing options will be the top three on my housing application.
Now, there are just a few things we need to discuss before we start.
First of all, my housing situation this year. I am currently living in the sweetest deal a freshman can get. I’m in Palladium on Union Square with a full kitchen, living room, bathroom, and an attached dining hall and gym to the building. My commute to campus takes about 15-20 minutes, depending on where my class is located. Most freshman dorms are on “campus” (or, at least, near Washington Square Park, which I consider to be campus). They don’t have kitchens, many of them don’t have air conditioning, and they’re some of the oldest dorm buildings owned by NYU.
Because one of the original “freshman” dorms was being renovated throughout the course of this year, four floors in Palladium were opened up to first-years. Hence, how I ended up here. And don’t get me wrong, I’m happy where I am, but I am looking to upgrade to a larger kitchen and wood floors while still remaining in the same general location.
I also considered applying for Choice housing next year, which is an alcohol and controlled-substance free environment. It’s not exactly a secret that I differ from my classmates in that particular area. I, personally, enjoy abstaining from drugs, smoking, and alcohol. This year, living in the same building as people who don’t necessarily feel the same way has been a struggle.
My fear in doing that, however, is two-fold.
First of all, I don’t want to end up rooming with someone who doesn’t like to do anything fun and goes to bed at 10pm every single night. While I don’t go out to clubs and bars, I still like to stay up late, do adventurous things, and be a teenager. I worry that, in Choice housing, I will feel restricted in those areas. I worry that my roommate(s) will dislike me because I go out late at night, or because I swear sometimes, or because I like to explore. In a way, I’m scared of feeling like I’m not “good enough” for the people living in Choice housing, and I’m also concerned about feeling “holier-than-thou” in normal housing. It’s an unsteady middle ground.
Second of all, Choice housing is located only in Palladium and Coral Towers, which greatly diminishes my housing options and denies me the right to even apply for a building with hardwood floors and a dishwasher (two of my “favorite” qualities in a dorm). The Choice housing in Palladium, specifically, is comprised of a large number of rooms that share a large kitchen and common space. I prefer the four people to a kitchen and living room setup, because I feel like I have more control over my surroundings. This only leaves me with Coral Towers and, if I get denied entrance to the program, may land me in a dorm I’m unhappy with anyway.
There’s also the issue of single dorming versus double dorming. At the moment, I have one roommate and two suite-mates. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate that setup. I considered getting a single room and offsetting the additional cost by lowering my meal plan, but then I realized that single rooms don’t get their own kitchen and bathroom. I also realized that most single rooms are paired with two double rooms to share a kitchen and bathroom.
So what’s the bigger evil? Having your own room but sharing a common space with four other people? Or sharing your room, but only sharing a common space with three other people?
I settled all of these issues by remembering the most important thing of all about next year. I intend on going to Washington DC for the spring semester. In which case, my housing here will only be for the first semester. Why spend $1,300 more on a single room for four months? Why join Choice housing and then ditch out on it?
All of that being said, I think I’m going to go with a traditional housing option with four people to a kitchen, living room, and bathroom.
And, eight minutes later, here are the candidates:
Broome Street- Broome Street & Centre Street in SoHo
This basically means that Broome Street is the only dorm within NYU that is a full living experience. There are five required classes/events per semester. But, I’ve heard, they’re actually pretty interesting and the requirements aren’t difficult to fulfill.
Located in freaking SoHo
All of the shopping you could ever hope to do (even though I’ll probably never take advantage of it), and an extremely short commute to campus.
Laundry rooms on every floor
I can’t tell you how invaluable this is, coming from a girl who currently has to drag her laundry 50 yards to the elevator, down four flights, and all the way to the laundry room. It almost isn’t worth coming back up between load-switching.
Always a bonus in Manhattan, especially when you’re living in a prime location for much less than the average New Yorker would have to be able to afford.
While the bathroom doesn’t look extremely clean or appealing, there’s a bathtub. And, with enough scrubbing, I may actually be comfortable using it.
That’s just one more requirement to worry about during an already busy time. Between work, school, lectures, and events, how I am going to find time to do five additional activities?
It’s definitely small and cramped, and not at all as clean looking as the one that I already have. Broome Street makes me thankful for my all-white, industrialized-feeling dorm room. There’s no character, but at least it’s clean.
It’s in freaking SoHo
Getting to Union Square is going to be next to nearly impossible, and pointless. And my walks to Times Square are going to be significantly longer if I’m living in SoHo. I’ll have almost no choice but to take the subway.
If I think opening my window in Union Square is bad, just wait until I start opening it in SoHo. Not to mention the subway is so close that residents can feel it moving underneath them.
Compared to other housing, Carlyle Court has lots of open space in the rooms. It isn’t just made to fit the appropriate amount of furniture. I’ll actually be able to move around in there.
Though lacking in character, Carlyle is neat, organized, and new. It’s basically Palladium, but a step-up in space and quality of appliances.
Near Union Square
Being only a block or two from where I’m currently living, Carlyle is still on Union Square and about a 20 minute walk from campus. It’s also very close to a Starbucks.
The living room IS a bedroom
This basically means that two of the suite-mates will be sleeping, working, and living in the “common space”. This presents a range of problems. Where does one go if they’re upset or frustrated? How do the suite-mates with a separate bedroom reach the kitchen and bathroom in the middle of the night without disturbing the others? Where, if the suite-mates with a separate bedroom want to have friends over, do they hang out?
Carlyle is well-known for sketchy elevators, a huge downside. The dorm houses over 800 students, and two elevators per tower (of which there are three) isn’t nearly enough, especially when they decide not to function properly.
I feel like I already know the area inside and out. The dorm is less than a block from where I currently live, not to mention it’s right above a Duane Read convenience store.
It has “charm”
Though Coral Towers is extremely modern, it wasn’t built as an NYU dorm. NYU Local states that, “Of all of the upperclassman dorms, Coral feels the least like an actual dorm.”
Has Choice housing
If I do decide to go with Choice housing, Coral Towers offers it within their building. This may be something that I consider if I decide on the dorm as one of my top three options.
There are only two elevators
Again with the elevator problem. When one breaks down, the entire building is trapped. Apparently, they also smell badly of garbage once a week when the trash is taken out. I keep taking for granted that Palladium has garbage chutes on every floor.
Rooms are inconsistent
Though upperclassman do get to pick, specifically, what room they want in their prospective building, it’s difficult to tell on a map or outline how large a room is. Some of the rooms in Coral are a huge hit. Others are so small that their inhabitants end up envious of everyone else.
I cannot stress enough how much this matters to me. People don’t have dishwashers in Manhattan. Again, let me emphasize, people do not have dishwashers in Manhattan. The opportunity to get one as a student is invaluable and, as the dorm doesn’t cost anymore than any other dorm, it’s completely worth it. No cleaning dishes by hand. No cleaning dishes by hand. The full and complete knowledge that, when you pick up a spoon for your cereal in the morning, it’s actually going to be clean. Just imagine that for a minute.
Okay, the kitchen is really nice. I mean, large, spacious, complete with full amenities, granite counter-tops, and stainless steel appliances. It even comes with a touchscreen microwave and a beautifully tiled floor, just for the kitchen area.
I may never actually use it, but it’s nice to know that it’s there if I ever need it.
Laundry on every other floor
Laundry. On every other floor. This means I have a 50% shot of having a laundry room on my floor. I could wear my pajamas to do my laundry and not feel guilty about it.
Check out the tile-job on this bathroom. And do you see the bathtub there? Yeah. That’s heaven. That’s the dream right there.
Wood floors are easier to clean, easier to maintain, and less expensive to sweep up than, say, vacuuming an old, smelly carpet like some of the other dorms are forced to do.
Now, obviously this is my favorite dorm, by far. But there’s one significant HOWEVER:
Distance from campus
If I choose to live in Gramercy, I will have to walk half an hour to get to my classes, sometimes even longer. In the winter, this won’t be a viable choice, so I’ll either have to invest in a subway card for a few months, or I’ll have to take NYU’s slight-sketchy but free shuttle service. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that.
Due to some unforeseeable loophole, according to NYU Local, the Greenwich Hotel gets free maid service once a week for common areas such as bathrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. I do a lot of cleaning for myself, but this would be a nice bonus.
West Village location
I’ve been living in the East Village (or very close to said spot) for six months now, and I really like the area. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about moving to the other side of “campus”, but I also like the idea of living in the West Village. It’s significantly “fancier”.
Apparently, the Greenwich Hotel has fairly large rooms to choose from. It also boasts wood floors, a bathtub, and incomparably clean bathrooms.
There are no free amenities
Here, if your room runs out of toilet paper, it’s easy to pick some up downstairs. Here, if laundry needs to be done, Campus Cash can be used to pay the fee. At the Greenwich Hotel, free amenities aren’t part of the bargain. And this leads into our next issue.
Grocery shopping is difficult
There’s practically nowhere nearby to do any simple, easy grocery shopping. I’ve become so dependent on Food Emporium that I don’t know what I’d do if forced to find another way to shop for food.
Of course, the biggest bonus of all toward Palladium is that I’ve already lived there. I know the layout, I’m familiar with the organizational structure and security members, and I know how to take advantage of the semi-lacking room size.
I never use it, but it’s nice to know that the gym is right downstairs if I ever need it. And it’s not just an exercise-room type of gym like the one in Gramercy. No, this is a legitimate gym, with a pool and rock-climbing wall to boot.
I’m familiar with the Palladium dining hall and the workers there. I love having the convenience of picking up necessities there when I don’t want to spend my hard-earned cash at Walgreens, and the food (while it takes an impossible amount of time to actually get) tastes amazing.
Palladium is a 10-15 minute walk from campus and most classes. I’ve never yet had a day where I felt I needed to take a cab or a bus to school, and I’ve definitely never considered taking the subway. 15 blocks sucks in the winter, but Palladium is about as close to campus as upperclassman housing gets.
We call ours “the ghetto kitchen”. The stove-top only has two functioning burners, there’s no dishwasher or microwave included, the fridge leaves something to be desired, and there’s absolutely no way to tell what temperature the oven is set at. Cooking in it tends to be a hit-or-miss operation.
Tiled floors and “cookie-cutter-esque”
It gets frustrating after a while, feeling like you aren’t living somewhere home-y. Palladium is very cookie-cutter-esque, with white-washed walls and industrialized bathrooms and kitchens. The floor has this consistently dirty feeling, and don’t get me started on the less-than-classy furniture.
Almost 2500 words later, we’re finally at the moment of truth. Pick your favorite of the options above and click it below on the poll. Feel free to comment below with reasoning! And please, take the time to vote. This post took me five hours to complete (no joke). It’s the most in-depth post I’ve ever written.
So about two weeks into school, I received this email from NYU Safety Alerts, informing the student body that an individual “not associated with NYU” was attacked by a man with a box cutter and slashed in the face after refusing to give him money outside of an NYU dorm. Three other incidents were reported, describing the same suspect committing violent acts near Union Square.
For those of you who aren’t aware, I live on the same block that the original man was attacked. I mean, the bus stop where the crime occurred is literally within one hundred yards of my front door. Another of the attacks took place outside my favorite grocery store, Food Emporium. Still another was in the subway station down the street.
Now, I know it’s Manhattan and I know that dangerous things happen here. But I was nevertheless nervous about walking home from work by myself at 11pm with the suspect still at-large. It isn’t as normal as some of you might think, having a stranger out attacking people in the middle of the night in New York City. Those times have inevitably passed, and the protective/defensive shells on New Yorkers have also diminished.
This may be a decent time to launch into my spiel about gun ranges and my growing desire to invest in a handgun permit, but for the moment, I’ll continue with the story.
I’ve taken to referring to the suspect as “Box Cutter Guy”. I went on with my week, for the most part unafraid to leave my dorm, and he was eventually apprehended. It was my first big Safety Alert since I moved in, and hopefully one of my last.
Michelle Obama (Obama’s Video)
I was lounging in bed. It was a weekend and I felt that I had every right to relax, so don’t judge me.
Around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, I see a post on NYU Secrets (a Facebook page run semi-anonymously by a senior) about a student spotting Michelle Obama and her daughter Malia touring an NYU dorm. Hours later, the post was confirmed by one of our school papers, NYU Local. As it turned out, the two had spent the afternoon “checking out” the campus.
Now, Malia is sixteen. By the time she’s getting ready to start college, her father won’t be the President of the United States anymore. I’ll be in my junior year. And I’m very sure it won’t be weird at all, having the President’s daughter attending our classes. Even if it’s the ex-President’s daughter…I mean…still.
This school, I swear.
Also, President Obama was in a BuzzFeed video and you need to watch the hilarity that ensues.
Migraine From Hell
Wednesday of, I think, the week before last, I woke up and immediately wanted to crawl underneath my bed, wrap my comforter around me, and spend the rest of the week in my homemade shroud.
Dramatic, but true. I’ve never had a headache this bad in my entire life.
Wednesdays are my earliest days of the week. I’m forced to roll out of bed by no later than 7:30 in order to make it to my 8:00 class on time. For a college student, that’s freaking early. And, because I’m a proven vampire, I hate morning sunlight. Afternoon sunlight, evening sunlight, even that especially yellow sunlight that comes in the springtime I can handle. But morning light is my worst enemy. Early morning, late morning. If it’s morning and the sun is shining, I want to crawl into a hole.
I don’t know if there’s a name for this hatred, but I’d really like to find out. Because it makes me feel physically ill, even though I was already feeling awful to begin with.
By the time I made it through my 8:00 class, my head was pounding. And it wasn’t reserved to one section…it was like my entire skull wanted me to fall apart at the seams.
I made it to my 9:30 lecture, but I almost lost my non-existent breakfast during it and, afterward because I had a four hour break, I practically crawled home and died in the darkness of my dorm of death.
…okay, it was a really bad day.
The only solution I could come up with two days later (when the headache finally began to subside) was to get up even earlier on my early days and force some food and coffee into my system to wake me up. And, of course, enforce earlier bedtimes.
But it’s just so difficult to get out of bed earlier than you have to in the morning.
Some of you have already heard the story of when I showed up for my Journalism Ethics class and my professor wasn’t there and never sent a follow-up email to explain the incident.
Well, the following week, he turned up and told us that the syllabus would be pushed back a week and that we wouldn’t be affected by the missed class period. He’s also had a tendency, so far, to let us out early (the class is 2.5 hours long and difficult for anyone with a short attention span to handle), so he definitely gets points for that.
And, as it turns out, he’s actually a really great guy.
Professor George Freeman used to be George Freeman at law, legal counsel and VP of the New York Times Company. Fired amidst great controversy in 2012 when the Times was forced to make serious employment cuts, he now teaches Journalism Ethics and First Amendment Principles at NYU, among other various jobs.
Basically, the point of the class is to learn secondhand what it’s like in the journalism field to make the right ethical calls; calls that are going to secure your standpoint in a court of law, should you ever be brought there. And, so far, I’m enjoying it.
Thanks for keeping updated with Random Encounters & Weird People! Hopefully, as the winter begins to thaw into spring, I’ll have other interesting “outdoor” exploration stories to tell.