My Favorite Study Spaces on Campus

Being a part of the class of 2024, I’ve only really seen the Columbia and Barnard community during COVID-19. The usually large and populated community is quiet and sparse, as classes have moved online. Last semester, I wandered the empty campus, wondering what it was like during normal learning times. I’ve heard about how difficult it was to snatch a seat at the libraries when the campus was still bustling with people. I’ve heard about students pulling all-nighters at Butler and practically living at their seat for days during exam week. Now, seats are limited and libraries close early. While I’m looking forward to things getting better and campus fully reopening, I’m taking advantage of the seat reservation system and spending as much time in the quiet study spaces as I can before they start to repopulate. Here is a ranking of some of my favorite places on campus to study or hang out! 


  1. 1. Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library

    books on bookstore shelf

    I put Avery at top because how could I not? Small, cozy, and quiet, this is no doubt my favorite place to go study. It was one of the first places I explored on campus, and yet somehow, after six months, it still feels like a new adventure every time I go. The library just gives off the warmest vibes, with the colorful bookshelves, carpets, and glass windows. It also definitely has those dark academia vibes. 

  2. 2. Milstein Center

    When Barnard opened up for study reservations this semester, I was so excited to finally be able to study on campus! Milstein is one of my favorite places to go these days. I especially like the window seats on the second floor, where you get a perfect view of Futter Field and Broadway. It kind of saddens me that we’re already deep into the second semester and I still haven’t been able to truly explore my school’s campus. I’m glad Milstein is fully open now, though. I actually had my first in person class there last week! 

  3. 3. Alfred Lerner Hall 

    Unlike the libraries, Lerner allows you to hang out with friends and eat together (socially distanced, of course) which is perfect for the cold weather right now! I love going there for study sessions or to drink coffee with a friend. After months away from my piano at home, I was so excited when I discovered the pianos at Lerner and was able to finally play again. There’s also the Blue Java Café at the entrance, where you can get really great snacks and drinks! 

  4. 4. Butler Library

    Butler Library has always kind of scared me. I remember going in for the first time last semester and getting lost as I wandered around, looking for my reserved seat. The looming walls really make you feel small. I always tiptoe around, scared to make even the slightest of noise knowing it would echo throughout the entire room. Unlike the other study areas, Butler’s high ceilings and wide hallways scream intimidation. That is probably for the best, though, because the intensity there really helps me focus on my work. 

  5. 5. Science & Engineering Library

    woman in library

    Tucked at the back corner of Columbia’s campus, the Science & Engineering Library is another cozy place to study. I’ve been going there a lot recently, booking the carrel spots that stop your eyes from wandering and force you to focus on your work. Through the barred windows, there’s also a really nice view of Barnard, which makes it all the more special to me! 

It’s been so exciting to see more people on campus. Stay safe, everyone! And make sure to do your CoVerified or ReopenCU green screen in order to access these buildings!