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P.S. I Love You: A Letter Of Thanks To The Harry Potter Room

As I sit here on the second floor of Pattee Library to write this article, I can see roughly ten students asleep side by side in the overstuffed armchairs. Like, I’m talking full-on R.E.M sleep, the kind where you wake up and half of the chair is imprinted on your cheek, and you have no idea where you are or even what day it is.

It’s 1 a.m. at the time of writing, and this is completely normal. As one of the only rooms in the library that’s open 24/7 year-round, this room always seems to have at least one person fully asleep without a care in the world.

This is my love letter to the Harry Potter Room, a space that has always been there for me in times of trouble and even the most desperate periods of procrastination. Time does not exist in this room, and neither do social norms. It is a space that exists outside of the realm of what’s acceptable in polite society with its creaky old wooden chairs that have surely housed thousands of other butts in the years that is has been here.

To the Harry Potter Room, you have seen me at my worst, and you have still accepted me. Tonight, for example, I am looking a particular brand of Tired College Student in my color-clashing too-big sweatpants and oversized flannel that would perhaps garner me some looks from other students in other places, but this place is my safe space, and no one even gives me a second glance.

There is a boy at a table in front of me watching an episode of The Crown, and the only thing I can think to judge him for is not having the subtitles on so I can experience the pleasure of Claire Foy’s acting with him. Two girls to my right have just walked in with a large Papa Johns pizza and the smell is making my mouth water. Another girl is wearing a full-on matching pajamas set, the cute kind they sell at Victoria’s Secret, and she looks like she’s more comfortable than everyone else in this building.

The Harry Potter Room has no rules other than being quiet. There is no judgement in this room, no expectations, no social hierarchy. It’s like a real life version of The Breakfast Club, except none of us talk to each other, and we’ll probably never see each other again.

This is only amplified during midterms and finals. During the weeks leading up to and during those ridiculous projects and tests that you’ve procrastinated until the night before, it can be almost impossible to get a seat here. Even with more collaborative spaces like the third and fourth floors of the Paterno Library where you’re actually allowed to speak, students who are truly trying to ~grind~ will always find themselves searching for a space here.

So it is here that I have to give my thanks.

Without you, Harry Potter Room, who can say how many essays I would have let go unfinished, or how many sleepless nights I might have had? Even worse, I might have tried to study in a random classroom somewhere, which does not get my brain juices flowing, or in some other library full of, *gulp*, STEM majors. I might have starved, unable to GrubHub an unhealthy amount of Uncle Chen’s to the back (I will die on this hill) library entrance on Curtin Road, or I could have needed to brave working in my apartment and resist the temptations of turning on Netflix or just going to sleep.

The Harry Potter Room, or, if you want to call it by its “actual” name, The Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room, hasn’t been around at Penn State forever, but it surely emanates the Penn State spirit no matter what time of day it is. As I sit in this old wooden chair and look out at all of the human disasters sitting around me, I can imagine my children and my children’s children putting off their essays here just how I have done.

As midterm szn ends and finals szn creeps ever closer, I expect that the amount of sad, sleeping students filling this space will only begin to increase, but for now, I can sit and enjoy this depressing picture of humanity, myself included.

To the Harry Potter Room, I cannot begin to thank you enough. With half of my junior year almost complete, we have spent thousands of hours together thus far, and our journey together is not even close to ending. My love for you is like that Dan + Shay song: I’ll spend 10,000 hours, and 10,000 more, if that’s what it takes to learn that sweet heart of yours.

You’re always on my mind, cutie. I’d be lost without you, truly.

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About the Author

Katie Moats

Katie Moats is a senior majoring in English, and her goal this year is to get a big girl job. Seriously, though, if you're looking for someone who can write and edit like nobody's business, she's Katelyn Moats on LinkedIn and will literally interview with you tomorrow. You can follow her @k_moats24 on Twitter for stupid content, but if it's something serious, feel free to shoot her an email (preferably in the form of a poem) to [email protected]


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