Musically mapping the San Marcos Public Library

todayOctober 4, 2023 85 1 4

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By Michael Ybarra

Music Journalist

Alkek Library, located in the center of the Texas State University campus, is not the only palace of literature in the city of San Marcos. Often overlooked by university students, the San Marcos Public Library, holds hidden gems, beautiful displays and plenty of novels to bloat even the most ravenous readers. The public library also houses DVDs, audiobooks, study rooms and so much more, with each sections exudes a unique energy.

I set out on a journey of musical cartography, to properly interpret each of these auras and select a song which best captures its essence.


The Foyer

Before glass sliding doors, a kite resembling a crane hangs from the ceiling
Kites hang above sliding doors. | Michael Ybarra

As the sliding doors glide open and the rush of air conditioning bathes you in a sweet relief from the Texas sun, the expansive entrance to the San Marcos Library greets city folk with kites illuminated by circular overhead lighting. Magic replaces oxygen in the giant space, and a sense of wonder washes over you.

Nia Imani’s “Chrysalis Extended” encapsulates this feeling wonderfully. Completely written for an orchestra, this song provides the perfect sonic environment to gaze at the kites, intricately patterned, for minutes on end.

Against a white background, a woman in a white dress reaches up towards hanging plants
The cover of Nia Imani’s 2021 EP titled “Extended” released via the label Compose Her Records. | Nia Imani

As the strings ebb and flow, Imani’s piece truly feels like the beginning of a journey library goers will soon embark upon.        


Computer Lab

Blue-screened computers sit atop an extended white desk opposite shelves of DVDS
Computers sit on white desks. | Michael Ybarra

An armada of public domain computers welcome library visitors just next to the shelves of rentable DVDs. Motherboards and circulation vents sing an almost inaudible choir of humming. The world lies at the fingertips of those who sit in the chairs, but this area’s unique seclusion exudes a sort of digital mischief.

The overhead shot of a woman in a white dress emerges from a hole in the pink background which surrounds her
The cover of Hemlocke Springs’s single “Heavun” released via the label AWAL Recordings. | Hemlocke Springs

With a driving, warbled bass, Hemlocke Springs’s “Heavun” from her new EP Going…Going…GONE! transports the listener into a world made of ones and zeros. The instrumentation even sounds like the startup music of an ancient computer.

This would provide the ideal soundtrack for a hacking sequence from a library computer, all while the hacker attempts to evade tracking themselves.


Personal Bubble Seats

Blue seats tucked inside yellow-walled cove structures with desks
Yellow semi-circles with desks. | Michael Ybarra

Although more semi-circular in nature, individual study spaces act as cubicles scattered throughout the library. These give the onlooker a sense of comfort. As the visitor sits on the plush blue seats, the yellow walls embrace them and provide a resting place for even the most stressed person.

A black and white photo of a woman with her hair blowing across her downturned face
The cover of Rest Easy by the artist Yeemz released independently. | Kevin Katz

To compliment the coziness of these structures, Yeemz, an artist creating cello-focused indie music, penned “Rest Easy,” a song which massages the brain and the eardrums. The cleansing, sustained strings allow clarity to shine through the cloudiest mind, giving the listener a clear head to pummel procrastination and make progress on the pile of work before them.



An extended shelf is packed with books of all genres
Books on gray shelves. | Michael Ybarra

Endless shelves of fiction fill the northwest corner of the library, and Great Grandpa’s “English Garden” feels like being sucked into a new world. As words come alive in readers’ minds, they are immersed into different settings, times, relationships, and this song mimics the childlike wonderment of discovering a story seemingly written just for them.


Teenagers’ Section

Against a yellow wall, the word “teenager” is spelled and made of various trinkets
The word teenager is spelled on a wall. | Michael Ybarra

A sarcastic angst permeates the teenager section, full of Japanese manga and graphic novels. “American Teenager” by Ethel Cain, a four-minute rebellion against the promised suburban American Dream, siphons all the progressive thoughts well-read teens wish they could articulate, and Cain plasters them against an infectious electric guitar.


Children’s Section

Yellow shelves full of books are parted across a yellow and blue carpeted floor
Children’s Section. | Michael Ybarra

Color leaps off the carpet, walls and displays in the Children’s section, whether it be warning or welcoming. In order to capture the occasional outbursts of screaming youngsters, “In The Hall Of The Mountain King,” Edward Grieg’s orchestral piece gradually spirals out of control, much like children absorbing and infinitely elevating each other’s energy.

Visiting the library is truly special. The shelves coax visitors into alternate realities, and there are numerous amenities for productivity. Armed with these songs capturing the essence of different areas and a pair of headphones, library goers could elevate their visit to a spiritual experience.

Written by: Cayla Soriano

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