Celebrating Longhorns’ Dry-Erase Doodles

UT Libraries project specialist Frank Meaker makes the rounds at UT’s Perry-Castañeda Library every day, checking on maintenance tasks like leaky pipes and squeaky doors. About five years ago, during the study period leading up to final exams, he started noticing the whiteboards.

Dozens of boards are mounted in the library’s many study rooms. They’re meant for planning projects and solving equations, but students have creatively co-opted them for another purpose: expressing themselves.

From simple sketches to professions of love, detailed drawings, and even a call for help (and a friendly reply with the UT counseling center’s phone number), the whiteboard messages run the gamut.

They’re less fascinating individually than as a whole: a glance into the collective brain of the UT student body during finals, with stress and a sense of humor in equal measure. In the age of social media, the whiteboards are offering students a release their Facebook walls cannot.

“I think they show the life of the library,” Meaker says. “This time of year, we see kids doing all kinds of things. You’ll see the same kids working in one study room for three days at a time, not sleeping. We call them the walking dead.”

Meaker says he loves to photograph the whiteboard doodles, which UT Libraries then posts on Flickr each semester. After 25 years on staff at UT, including eight years at the library, he’s seen it all—including students sleeping in a tent inside the library, and another student who brought in a hammock.

But the whiteboard drawings never get old, he says: “They make me laugh.” And every now and then, Meaker adds a doodle or two of his own.

Photos by Frank Meaker

 

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