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Library Reviews: Butler 209

A photo of Butler 209 devoid of students during Orgo Night Fall 2016

Wow, is 209 always this empty on a Thursday night?

Bwog is back with another installment of Library Reviews! Today, we take a look at a classic: Butler 209. Whether 209 is your go-to spot (*ahem* like me) or simply a relic of Orgo Nights past, join us on a journey through this age-old Butler classic. 

Location: Butler Library, Room 209. Enter Butler and turn either direction, following the hallway to the end. Accessible Library.

Hours: 209, like several other rooms in the Philip L. Milstein Family College Library, is open 24 hours a day. It is not open 24 hours a day during Spring Break. The Library’s service hours open at 9 am on school days, close 11 pm on school nights.

Contact: (212) 854-7309;;; @ColumbiaLib on Twitter, and gosh do they wish they were BarnLib.


  • Total: 122 Seats
  • Tables: 86 Seats, 14 of which are at 2-seat tables.
  • Study Carrels: 14 Seats
  • Computers: 21 Seats
  • Stuffed Chairs: 1 Seat – it’s in the Southwest corner of the room.
  • Seats for Talking: 0 Seats. Take your commotion to ButCaf.


  • Printers: 2 PawPrint-connected printers.
  • Scanners: 0. If you need to scan, you’ll have to go to the Microform and Microfiche Room (401), a 24-hour printing room (304), or the Digital Humanities Center (305).
  • Lighting: The room is warmly and brightly lit, with chandeliers evenly coating the room. Definitely a major plus for the room.
  • Chairs: The chairs in this room are all from the same set. They are nicely carved wood, with arches forming the top of the seatback that have a chance to dig into your shoulders.
  • Outlets: By my counts, 30 table seats don’t have outlets – All two-seat tables, plus the four-seat tables closest to the extreme West and East ends of the room. Computer seats don’t have easily accessible outlets. The remaining 71 seats all have outlets – 1 per table seat, 2 per carrel seat.
  • Computers: 20 of the computers require log-ins, and are arranged on two Poké Ball-shaped circles, with two computers in the center of each. Computers have standard programs like the Microsoft Office suite.
  • Bathrooms: The West side of Butler 2 has only a women’s bathroom, while the East side has men’s and women’s. These bathrooms are some of the most trafficked on campus, meaning that while they will be kept fully functioning, they’ll also be a bit disgusting. Look out for the illusory black-and-white checkered pattern on the floors.
  • Water Fountains: One water fountain on either side of the reading room. The one on the East side is stronger, but they’re both nice and cold.
  • Food/Drink: Food and drink are allowed, as this room is marked as a green zone. You are not allowed to bring outside food into Butler Library, but plenty of people just hide the food in their backpacks when they walk in.
  • Windows/View: The windows are high and mostly blinded, but would look onto 114th Street.
  • Smoking: Smoking is permitted right outside of Butler Library.
  • Books: All books in the Milstein collection with call numbers from BM to DJK are housed in 209. The Milstein call number system is arcane and not to be trifled with.
  • Bonus: At the East end, there are atlases to remind you of where else you could spend your time. On the West side, a stained glass portrayal of Peter Stuyvesant, 17th director-general of New Amsterdam. Rumor has it that if you study in here during the last night of reading week, something magical will happen.

Atmosphere: This is the room most likely to reek of stress in Butler Library. Without the 301’s openness or huge chandelier, there is little for 209 to offset the silence of study. However, being surrounded by studying peers helps many people focus. You might have to get here early on a school night to get a seat. All told, this room could use a greater sense of community.

Favorite Spot: Between the two computer circles are four pairs of study carrels. Taking one of the middle two seats in this area will set you at a certain balance with the universe, as 209 is symmetrically.

Recommendation: This is a good room to crack down in, but there are also other, smaller rooms in Butler conducive to the same task. Don’t feel pressured to study in here. If you do want to go, make sure to use the room’s new and uninterrupted 24-hour capacity during the last day of reading week!


Editors’ Note: The author is a member of the Columbia University Marching Band.

A curiously empty 209 via In Defense of Orgo Night

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