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While many of us probably remember being shown the Norlin Library on our high school tours of CU, actually going into the library on your own is a whole different story. As a freshman (and a sophomore too, honestly), it seemed way too terrifying to claim a study spot in the library, especially when it seemed like everyone else knew what they were doing. Luckily, I now spend most of my study time in the library and have scouted out some spots that are perfect for focusing.

While Norlin Library, built in 1940, has its beautiful spots and its quiet hideaways, it’s not exactly clear to some students where they should go once they enter its doors. 

For the Outdoorsy: Outside the Back Entrance of Norlin

I took the picture of all these study spots at night, so the library was more empty than usual, but anyone who’s walked past the back entrance of Norlin has noticed this lively study spot of around 20 four-person tables. This spot is perfect for when you’ve felt cooped up after a class, want to eat without worrying about noise and with friends, or just like the ambiance of a bustling college spot. These tables are perfect for people-watching, socializing, and still getting some work under the Colorado sunshine–just make sure you check the weather before you head out.

Charging spots?: No

Quiet?: No

Busy?: Almost constantly–but there are always spots on Norlin quad for some outdoor studying!

Comfortable?: Not really

For the Private and Serious: Norlin Commons, First Floor

I like to call these spots “space pods”, because you’re covered on three sides for privacy and it can feel like you’re the only person in the world. Visible as soon as you enter Norlin from the back end, these pods are perfect for getting focused, and the chairs and footrests are so comfy (meaning they’re also perfect for a mid-homework nap). The only downside is that they’re almost always full, but definitely worth checking if you can snag one of these spots if you want to really get in the zone with homework. 

Charging Spots?: Yes

Quiet?: Yes–but not if there’s a group project or study session meeting nearby so be aware!

Busy?: Always–but early morning or late night library visits are bound to get you a spot. 

Comfortable?: Yes

For the Casual Studier: Children’s Library, Second FLoor

This spot is not for the intense study session, but more for a change of scenery while also getting some work done. If you need to zone out, you can by looking at the children’s books or out the window, but it’s quiet enough that you won’t be totally distracted. Another bonus is the couches on the side and back of the room– comfortable, but with enough back support that you won’t feel like a senior citizen after typing for three hours.

Charging Spots?: Depends, not guaranteed

Quiet?: Moderately–some small chatter should be expected

Busy?: Not often

Comfortable?: Yes

For the Napper: Window Couches, Second Floor

While these couches are in full view of almost everyone in the library, they’re perfect for curling up with a book or some readings you have to get done. Construction is happening in the library this finals season near this spot, so it can get loud, but if you’re too tired to sit upright this is the spot for you. While they can give you some back pain after an extended period of time, the Norlin couches are bound to give you a relatively relaxing study session.

Charging Spots?: No

Quiet?: No, but not exceedingly loud

Busy?: Yes

Comfortable?: For a short amount of time

For the One Who Wants to Romanticize Studying: Norlin Stacks, Third Floor

While not shown in the picture, the window seat of any of the tables in the stacks has a great view of campus, colored leaves in the fall, and falling snow in the winter. If you truly want to be surrounded by books and quiet in a Rory Gilmore, Hermione Granger-style study session, the Norlin Stacks are bound to satisfy your needs. You might be able to snag a whole table to spread out and get things done, or you might just grab a small desk to type out some discussion posts, but either way, this area of the library has overall good and calming vibes. 

Charging Spots?: Depends on which table you’re sitting at

Quiet?: Yes

Busy?: Maybe, but almost always there will be a seat open

Comfortable?: As comfortable as wooden chairs can get

For The Daydreamer: Table Overlooking the Second Floor

A multitude of tables surround the edge of the third floor that overlooks the second, and if you snag one you’ll have the best view of the interior architecture of the library. If you’re a fan of the Pomodoro Method, this spot is perfect for your short study breaks–it’s a casual enough area to be able to relax, but seeing all the people around you and below you working should motivate you for your next stretch of work. 

Charging Spots?: Yes, including USB ports

Quiet?: No, but a comfortable amount of noise

Busy?: Yes, but you will be able to find a spot 90 percent of the time

Comfortable?: somewhat 

For the Easily Distracted: Third Floor Study Pods

These pods are my personal favorite spot, as you literally have no choice to look at anything but your work. Although they can fill up easily, the twenty-plus pods scattered around the third floor should be on your priority list for study spots. There’s enough space to spread out with textbooks and reading materials, but it’s confined enough that you have privacy to get in the zone without worrying about being judged. Overall, if you see one of these open–grab it. 

Charging Spots?: Yes, USB included

Quiet?: Yes

Busy?: Yes

Comfortable?: Yes- plush rolling chairs

Hopefully, at least one of these spots will work for you. Happy finals Buffs!

Genevieve Andersen

CU Boulder '24

Genevieve is a CU student studying Political Science and French. She loves reading, dogs, and all things outdoors, and in her free time you'll find her on a hiking or ski trail!
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