This story originally appeared in UCLA Today, a discontinued publication.

Short poems capture hours spent in the English reading room

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After toiling for 18 years in the English Department’s reading room, head librarian Lynda Tolly admits she would be hard-pressed to put into words what makes the wood-paneled sanctuary so special.
 
"I can think of only about five words to describe the English reading room," she said with a laugh, of this quiet hideaway located on the second floor of the Humanities Building.
 
studying
A typical day in the Grace Hunt Memorial Library.                               Photos by Sylvia Duzaryan.
So Tolly didn’t have particularly high expectations when she challenged the department’s undergraduates and graduate students to come up with haikus to describe their feelings for and experiences in what’s known formally as the Grace Hunt Memorial Library.
 
Not only was it designed to be a creative exercise, but the haiku project was launched to draw students’ attention to the library’s new Facebook page and to its annual book sale set for today and Tuesday.
 
To Tolly's delight, what resulted from her appeal was an eclectic collection of well-chosen words — not unusual for UCLA English majors — that capture succinctly a wide range of impressions, from funny to poignant, about the room where they spend hours bent over their keyboard, paging intently through a few of its 35,000-plus non-circulating books and periodicals — or taking a quick catnap.
 
"I’ve been impressed with how creative and innovative our students are," Tolly said. "They’ve come up with all kinds of imaginative descriptions."
 
Here’s a sampling.
 
Sarah Emick
In the back alcove,
I saw Marcus Brutus kill
The mighty Caesar.
 solo
Christina Mattson
I swear there was sun
When I started to read. Now,
Where did the day go?
 
Lilit Arakelyan
A stifled yawn as Oscar speaks,
Unworthy of his company.
Head to page. Apologies, Wilde.
 
Molly Montgomery
Lovèd volume found,
confined to a sunlit cell,
I am bound to you.
 
Justin Kinnear
Pages flip, pupils
read words bound, by paned winter
light of Westwood sun.
 
booksCaroline Kim
Determined, I sit
but realize I forgot
my book. Time to nap.
 
Natalie Chudnovsky
Tapping breaks through my
focus. Who dares? Wait. It's me.
I've been here too long.
 
Mark Gallagher
Undergraduates,
Please don't disturb grad students!
(We grade your papers.)
 
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The Grace Hunt Memorial Library will be hosting a public book sale today, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
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