Portrait of a study spot
1. Third Floor Libs
*Comfort: anywhere from 2-5 (highly dependent on functioning heat/ availability of window-side desks)
*Social Activity: 2
*Access to food/coffee: 5
First of all, as someone who almost exclusively frequents the third floor, I feel unqualified to rate the other areas of the library (plus the vibe can differ wildly between floors). In my own experience, if productivity is your number one priority, the third floor beats pretty much all other locations. It’s generally really quiet, there are lots of big desks (some with window views!), and there are printers/computers/rent-able laptops at your disposable. However, if you’re looking for moderate to high social activity—that low hum of chatter that sometimes makes a study location more cheerful (see: Peirce, the bookstore)—the libs is not the place for you. And if you’re in the mood to take a break and finally have that spirited debate about the historical inaccuracies on Downton Abbey, or basically make any kind of loud sustained noise, go elsewhere—people will remember (I’m looking at you, chip eaters during finals week). The library also loses major points for comfort. Sure, some areas have lamps/arm chairs and are relatively inviting, but the overall lighting is weirdly clinical, like a badly lit doctor’s office. Finally, access to food/coffee gets a passing grade, because the vending machine coffee is pretty good and the snack machine has all the standard chips and candy you’d expect, i.e. a decent option when you’re stressed out and hungry at 1:15 A.M.
2. New Side Peirce
*Comfort: 5 (good temperature, large tables, natural light)
*Social Activity: 7
*Access to food/coffee: 10
In the late afternoon—when lunch-induced sleepiness makes the library a tempting nap location—I often turn to Peirce. New Side/ Thomas has gorgeous views, plenty of natural light, and as noted, a cheerful low din that helps me focus during the listless pre-dinner period. It’s a great place for some low-key reading or email answering, while still being social enough to group study or catch up with friends (and have that long awaited Downton debate). Finally, and most importantly, Peirce scores a perfect 10 in the food category—free bagels, soup, coffee, and even leftover desserts from lunch, all a mere room away. Added bonus: this is basically the only time of day the panini press is available! Panini grilled cheese, a chocolate chip cookie and some light sociology reading—what more could a girl want?
3. The bookstore
*Comfort: 8 (mostly extremely comfortable, although sometimes inexplicably freezing)
*Social Activity: 7
*Access to food/coffee: 9 (docked one point vs. Peirce because the food isn't free)
The bookstore is kind of the greatest place on Earth. The coffee, bagels, and croissants are cheap and delicious, there’s always cheerful music playing (but not in an obnoxious way), and the vibe is warm and inviting. Also, bookstore ice cream—enough said. Even better, the store layout provides a plethora of studying options. There’s the table and armchair behind the snack aisles, the front section (which includes more comfy armchairs and a large wooden table) and the “the back,” where it’s often almost library-quiet, plus more tables and couches. The front of the bookstore is sometimes mysteriously cold, but otherwise an ideal and very comfortable study location. The back is even quieter—sometimes almost library-level—although beware of the occasional loud “study group” (aka three hours of complaining followed by 20 minutes of studying). The only real drawback to the bookstore? It closes at 11. So if you want to settle in for the (late) night, the library or post-dinner Peirce are your best bets.