Library Hopping: So You Don’t Become Part of Butler’s Permanent Collection

Written by

Your midterm is gonna suck no matter where you study

Your Butler: the fluted columns, the intellectual legacy, the perfect study spot. Unfortunately that serial sniffler surrounded by a fortress of textbooks thinks so too. The Panopticonesque 209 is for people who want to be seen studying, not actually get any work done. But Butler’s just so purdy, you say. Excuses, excuses. Aesthetics certainly don’t make up for the awkwardness of bumping into that person—your global core TA who you saw at 1020 last night, that kid you drunkenly hit on that one time—everyone’s got that someone. Well, you’ll run into them. Definitely. Because the gods are out to get you like that. Enter, libraryhops, an old favorite feature we dug up from the archives and excerpted below. To those who’ve already discovered these underrated study havens, sorry to out your cherished spots. Check out the full the campus library marauder’s map.

Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library: Everyone knows that Avery is the Paul McCartney to Butler’s John Lennon: the second-most-famous one, the arguably better looking (or more aesthetically pleasing) one. Avery is gorgeous, it’s close, it’s quiet, there’s Brownies in the basement, there are scores of attractive Italian people sitting outside smoking clove cigarettes. You get the picture.

The Social Work Library: The primary, overarching virtue of the Social Work is its health. Floor-to-ceiling windows onto Amsterdam provide light to remind you what time of day it is. The main disadvantage is that it’s never open later than 9pm. But there is a silver lining in the reduced hours; the place has a clean and wholesome feeling, as if frequented by people who live normal, well-adjusted lives that involve going home to a family or at least a significant other after a fulfilling day at work. None of that groggy just-woke-up sense you get in Butler.

Gottesman Library at TC:  Gottesman is quiet. There are no screaming whispers. There is no need for Red, Yellow and Green zones of eating and drinking here: grown-ups study here. It is not, however, a hostile quiet.  No one glares at you when you unzip your backpack. We overheard a very few brief quiet conversations. Forgetting for a moment where we were, we looked around for people to roll our eyes with at these breakers of sacred library code, but eventually realized that everyone around us was actually focused, and then we felt kind of guilty. The library itself isn’t grand. There’s no marble and no stained glass windows, but there is a lot of light, lovely nursery-school-yellow walls, and burgundy wall-to-wall carpeting. There are several group study rooms with truly nap-worthy reclining swivel chairs. There are a few small cubicles, so you don’t have to worry about—dare we say it—other people actually sitting next to you. The views are decent, but not distractingly (i.e Low Library, South Lawn) glorious, and conducive to actually getting work done. Sure, Procrastination is procrastination anywhere: the elderly man seated behind us browsed Craiglist for violin lessons, Russian lessons, and some less savory endeavors. We wont deny that we still scrolled through our own Facebook pictures a few times, but, really, we got work done here.

NoCo Science and Engineering Library: The main floor of the library, accessible through the campus-level entrance, houses dozens of giant LCD screens in the new Digital Science Center— 30-inch screens for the Windows machines and 27-inch screens for the Mac Pros. Up two flights of stairs hides a sea of study carrels and tables, along with bathrooms, water fountains, and a big window overlooking the lower floor on the mezzanine. These carrels are smaller than the ones found in other libraries— just under three feet wide and two feet deep. Luckily, each has two power outlets, an Ethernet port, and a dual-bulb fluorescent light that looks like something you’d purchase at Walmart for your kitchen counter. The light-stained wood and bright, warm lighting makes us feel homey and safe.

The Math and Science Library: It is a tiny library, just one U-shaped room with 6 or 7 computers, around 10 fake wood (no oak!) reading tables and some 70’s-style purple rocking chairs. Bwog took a seat around a small round table in a brown cushioned chair that could be found in the basement of every reader’s grandparents. There is no swipe-in process at the Math Library, but everyone seemed to be a diligent-looking if rather serious math-or-science student: no impostors here.

And a few other gems: the East Asian library in Kent, the geology library on the 6th floor of Schermerhorn, and the music library on the 7th floor of Dodge.

Kinder via FPEA

Tags: , , ,


  1. Hi

    Bwoggie "Gerund" Bwog, who ever uses libraries on campus besides the people with GPAs of 3.94+? If you want big readership focus on the big things on campus like the Steps, Dino BBQ, and stuff that we actually go to and make use of. Just because we are at a #4-ranked school (take that Princeton!), doesn't mean we are all bookworms. If anything we are pretty chill people overall. Just a little tense sometimes, one can say.

  2. Anonymous  

    1. you think Bwog is lacking in readership?
    2. you haven't noticed that the bulk of Bwog's coverage already is free food/entertainment/the like?
    3. do you even go here?

  3. Bookworm (apparently)

    I found this really interesting & can't wait to try out some libraries other than Butler and Avery. Thanks Bwog!

  4. north campus denizen  

    NoCo is DA BEST

    • entertained NoCo lib patron

      At least once every hour without fail someone will attempt to enter NoCo S+E library with food or a non-spillproof drink (usually from NoCo Joe) and without fail the same staffperson will tell them they can't bring it in. It get's even better when someone puts up a fight and complains that they "need to use the library," "just bought this latte," or "weren't aware of the policy"... I've even seen him brandish the no food/drink sign (metal stand and all) as if he were gonna hit them with it.

      • Anonymous  

        That guy has a pretty thankless job. I understand they need to protect the computers, but they put a fancy new library and a fancy new coffee shop together, what did they expect?

        • You're right,

          He does have a fairly thankless job, and so I'll be sure to thank him next time I witness another of his verbal smack-downs.
          Also I understand people attempting to bring in their coffee and even the occasional person who missed the sign at the library's entrance, but its ridiculous how some think they can argue their way into taking the coffee in with them. Regardless of the policy's fairness, the humor is in their stubbornly futile arguments.

      • less entertained  

        i've been confused by the amount of people fielding phone calls, talking in normal-conversation mode, texting with the ringer on, etc. crazy kids, this generation doesn't know silence, back in my day, 50 miles in the snow, etc etc etc.

  5. Anonymous

    Even in the midst of finals, there's always room (and a free computer!) at Dodge. Sure, the computers are dinosaurs and there's not much privacy, but it's much quieter and brighter than Butler. Also, for those with non-Columbia friends, there's no swiping or ID-checking.

    A truly hidden gem is the library at UTS. It's a bit of a hike but when you get there it's well worth it--comfy chairs, a nice view of the UTS cloisters, and almost nobody around.

  6. bwog

    you just love the libraries and the librarians

  7. Our kissing cousin

    Also, if you ever do find yourself downtown, don't forget you can get an access card for Bobst (NYU's library). Unfortunately you can't take books out, but they have more fleshed out collections of certain subjects Columbia lacks (or whose books are always out), like art history. If you can get past the trippy decor you can photocopy them or read them there.

    • Columbia lacks...  

      ...art history? Are you saying that Bobst has more art history than Avery?

      • Anonymous

        At least more modern/contemporary. I think the size of the collections are probably about equal (don't forget NYU has a good grad program for art history as well as a big fine arts school). But the biggest advantage to NYU's collections is that apparently no one there goes to the library to actually check out books, so everything is ALWAYS available (whereas at Avery, some grad student always has the book you need in their carrel).

  8. ...  

    sometimes i love the fact that butler is 24 hours and don't really understand how i would survive otherwise. othertimes i wonder if perhaps it has the negative side effect of allowing the time it takes to complete something expand well into the next day (given that, well, you don't have to hustle to beat last call)

    a huge 24 hour study space is something that is somewhat unique to columbia, for better or worse. (small living spaces may have something to do with it)

  9. Anonymous

    The Main Reading Room of Burke (UTS) may be small, by which I mean tiny, but it feels to me like a comfier, carpeted version of the Rose Main Reading Room in the main branch of the NYPL.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.