The Best of Barnard and Columbia Libraries

The Best of Barnard and Columbia Libraries

In my opinion, the library people study in says a lot about them. (Or, if they even study in a library at all.) There are twenty-six libraries at Columbia (you can check them all out here) so you have ample choice of study spaces. Butler Library at Columbia is most people’s go-to, but I put together a list of my favorite libraries that aren’t Butler. This list is still in development because I have yet to go to all twenty-six libraries--although that may be a new goal of mine. (I really want to go Teacher’s College. They have treadmill desks!)


Avery is probably my go-to library at the moment. It’s the Architecture and Art library at Columbia. There are two floors of Avery--the entry level, which looks like most Columbia libraries (dark wood, big columns, wide and long tables, etc.), but then there’s the lower level. The lower level is my preferred spot to study--the tables are even wider, the decor is 70s-mod, and the lighting is better. It feels a little happier on the lower level, in my opinion. Plus, the lower-level has cubby-desks (if that’s the right word for them? Honestly not sure what the proper term is.)

Downside: The bathroom is way too far away. Aka, it involves walking through a tunnel, approximately a two minute transit time.

Science and Engineering

The Science and Engineering Library is in NoCo (shorthand for the Northwest Corner Building) where Joe’s coffee is located. It’s one of my recent discoveries and a great pick for when I need a lot of natural light because on either side of the library is a wall of entirely glass. NoCo (its real name is just too long to say) is a newer library and is entirely modern--on the first floor there are desks in the form of booths (MIND-BLOWINGLY AMAZING) and on the second floor there are cushioned chairs and massive tables that are perfect for a long day of studying.

Downside: It’s far from pretty much everything, which makes taking a break to grab dinner really unpleasant.

C.V. Starr East Asian Library

I would call this library the coziest of the libraries I’ve spoken about thus far. It’s in Kent, which is a long and narrow building on Columbia’s campus right next to Low Steps. The library is on the entrance level of the building and has limited seating but a lot of personality. There’s a cool ceiling I can’t even begin to describe and a beautiful stained glass window at one end of the library. There aren’t as many tables here as there are at other libraries, but I actually like this part--fewer people to distract me. It also has loft spaces with tables that feel like you’re in your own private library and is usually a bit on the cooler side (temperature wise). East Asian is a great choice for a calm day of studying that could include some periodic napping (something I’ve done far too many times in this library).

Downside: There's only one printer.


LeFrak is Barnard’s “swing space” library in the old gym.  LeFrak was converted to the library to give Barnard students a space to study when the old library was torn down in order to make room for the Teaching and Learning Center (you can read more here). I never got to see the old library, but I’ve been able to enjoy LeFrak. It’s the closest library to my dorm since I live on the quad, so I usually end up in LeFrak on a late study night or when I’ve got a couple of hours to kill between classes. It’s a small space with comfortable chairs and multi-colored power strips, and the librarians are super friendly. LeFrak is my top pick for nights when I need to study in my pajamas and not get weird looks!

Downside: Because it’s small and the only Barnard library, it gets crowded pretty easily.

I’m thinking I need to have a Columbia library bucket-list after this post.

Stay tuned for my progress!

Header image from

Frequently Asked Questions About Barnard: Answered!

Frequently Asked Questions About Barnard: Answered!

Hosting for Barnard Open Houses

Hosting for Barnard Open Houses