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Ranking Places to Cry in Main Library

Over four years, many essays, a humanities degree, and a dissertation, I’ve had a lot of cries in Main Library. If you’re crying in the library (or in general tbh) an unusual amount for you in a short period of time then this probably isn’t healthy and I’ve included some resources at the end for places you can reach out to. However, occasionally a cry is inevitable. As we’re hitting peak dissertation + deadline stress / pre-exam stress, I wanted to impart my wisdom: that is, my experience-informed definitive ranking of places to cry. You can thank me later xx

10. The Silent Section (specifically, any desk where you’re sitting next to people you don’t know)

I don’t really think this one needs much explanation, but I’ll do it anyway. You’re in a space where you’re getting anti-crush posts written about you if you so much as drop a pen. The silent floors are a dog-eat-dog world where you become the worst version of yourself and you get irritated at people looking happy (but of course it doesn’t count when it’s you and your friends xx). So, given how impatient and heartless everyone becomes, I personally would not stick out a cry sesh (even if it’s silent) in the silent section. The likelihood of the person next to you asking if you’re okay is next to zero, and if they do then someone will get annoyed at them for talking. If you’re sniffing, someone’s going to get annoyed at that. People are going to look you. If they don’t, you’re just having a breakdown in a room full of people who don’t even notice because you’re so insignificant, and I think that’s sadder.

This doesn’t apply as much as if you’re in a single booth because at least then it’s your world, everyone else is just living in it.

9. The Library Café (during the day)

Despite their mysterious stains, the sofas are comfy so I do understand the appeal… but it’s busy and noisy during the day. Plus, it’s usually too busy anyway so if someone’s a hungry grouchy shit and just wants somewhere to eat their lunch in peace, I don’t think they’re going to look kindly on your crying. Also, it’s public but not in a main character way – in an embarrassing way.

8. Under the Desks (any floor)

It’s a good idea in theory because no one can see you and you’re physically removing yourself from the situation. In practice, however, it’s uncomfy and if you’re sitting next to people you don’t know they’re probably going to get weirded out about how close to their feet you are and you might get an anti-crushes post about you. If you’re still choosing this option then I recommend getting your friends to join you under the desks – make it a bit culty, or a friendship group activity <3

7. The Staircase

It’s public, that’s true. However, I feel like that doesn’t matter so much because everyone’s walked past someone crying on the staircase so, as long as you’re with someone (and maybe even if you’re not), then people will give you a wee smile of support and then leave you to it. It’s also quick and convenient to get to from the silent section!

Unfortunately, I do have a specific grievance with the staircase which drags this down in the ranking. One time I was sat crying on the stairs (with my friend awkwardly stood above me comforting me) when a staff member walked past and stared at me (didn’t say anything) and then a minute later walked by again and interrupted my cry sesh to tell us I’m not allowed to sit on the staircase so can I please move xoxo I don’t remember what I was crying about so it can’t have been that bad, but I was very affronted in the moment.

6. Toilets (any floor)

They deserve a solid middle. It’s the only place in the library you can (almost) guarantee that no one will walk in on you, and privacy counts for a lot. On the other hand… they’re grotty. Like, they’re SO grotty. Like, I’ve walked into toilets with piss covering the seat and floor. Also, you can feel pretty hurried because often, during the day, there’s a queue. Also, sometimes it’s fun to pout at yourself in a mirror and peace sign with tears streaming down your face, but some days that’s just a jumpscare. Also, if your friend comes in to comfort you, you’re both going to have to walk out after and people might assume you’ve been doing something else, so it depends if you think you can live with that judgement. Given I might as well pay rent to the library and regularly see a lot of the same staff and students floating around, I don’t think I personally could stomach the judgement.

5. Contemplation Room (on the top floor)

The only reason this isn’t higher is because I worry about sound leakage. If it’s a silent(ish) cry, though, this is pretty good!! Especially because you can put the ‘engaged’ sign on – someone might still walk in, but they’ve been warned.

I just want to publicly apologise to the guy who walked in while I was crying last year (I think it was around midnight?) and promptly turned around and walked out. Sorry king x

4. In Between the Bookshelves

Hear me out with this one: I know they’re in the silent sections, but if you find the right bookshelf then you’re not visible to any desk at all!! Sure, you might be audible, but so what if people are angrily glaring in your general direction? Out of sight, out of mind xx

One of my most soothing library memories was faceplanting on the floor for about 5 minutes straight (PSA: I am a strictly no-outdoor-clothes-in-or-on-my-bed kind of person, and this is why!!) and not a single person walked by! I was not in view of a desk! I was not perceived! I did not exist! It was very healing for my soul. This one is high up because it soothes my inner being, but I want to emphasise that this only works for silent cries. Please don’t noisy cry in the silent section, you’ll get kicked out xx

3. The Study Rooms

Good luck finding one of these free during the middle of the day. It can also be a bit uncomfortable because everyone stares through the glass when walking by. Womp womp <3

This was originally ranked sixth, but I’ve bumped it up quite a lot following from one of my cries a few days ago when I realised its brilliance. It was probably the noisiest cry I’ve ever done in the library because you feel very separated from the rest of the library and if you sit in the corner of the room at the end, people can’t see you. The walls are also very grounding (texture-wise). It’s definitely not soundproof but probably people aren’t going to interrupt you. Let it out, it's cathartic.

2. Library Café (at night)

This is public, and absolutely in a main character way!! Sit on the sofas, stare out the windows, and cry. Let the tears roll. You’re in a music video. You’re the only one who matters. It doesn’t even matter if there are other people there because they are ants and you are a god. I’d recommend putting in earphones and making sure they’re visible so that no one tries to talk to you. Listen to some dodie and pretend it’s 2016 x

1. Individual Desks in the Basement

This might sound like a letdown for number 1, but I promise it's so underrated. You have the best of all worlds! It’s not silent, so your sobbing might be missed. You can also lean right into your desk, and the person next to you can’t see you past the desk dividers. You can cry and work, and sometimes you might be able to trick yourself into focusing. My one tip is making sure you sit with your back to the postgrad section rather than alongside it, because otherwise the postgrads (and undergrads who’ve managed to sneak in) will goggle at you like you’re in an aquarium.

There are also other options outwith the library building. If it’s a sunny day, you can go sit outside in the Quad. You could also cut through the Arts Building and walk along the Scores. There’s also always Tesco/Sainsbury’s/Schwarma to buy yourself a little treat!! You can also skulk around the outside of the library and stare in random windows and creepily text your friends “I can see you” while sending them blurry, zoomed in snaps of themselves (disclaimer: that wasn’t me I promise I’m not that weird – that was my friend at 1am while having a breakdown). Sometimes fresh air is good for you etc etc.

However, if – for whatever reason – you’re set on crying inside, then I hope this list has helped. Remember, it’s not only okay to cry but often actually really needed. Whether it’s a singular tear or a full breakdown, don’t bottle up those emotions!

If you find you’re getting particularly overwhelmed (crying in the library once in a while is understandable, but if it’s happening regularly then this might be indicative of a larger issue) then don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact Nightline on +44 1334 46 2266 everyday between 8pm and 7am, and Breathing Space on +44 800 83 8587 between 6pm and 3am Monday to Thursday/6pm and 6am Friday-Monday, and the Advice and Support Centre at Saints LGBT+ have compiled a more detailed, extensive list of some places to reach out to, including for crisis support: .

 You’ve got this and good luck with whatever you’re crying about <3

Lina (she/they) <3


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