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Exam Survival Guide: Pros and Cons of McGill Libraries and Nearby Cafes

The time has come. We are quickly approaching two weeks of torture, otherwise known as the exam period. McGill libraries have turned into a battlefield. One must possess a take-no-prisoners attitude, saving seats for friends and providing coffee in exchange for laptop thief lookouts. We shame the snifflers, shush the phone callers and stumble upon at least three cryers a day. Luckily, Her Campus McGill is here to provide you with some pros and cons of popular McGill libraries, and a few surrounding cafes. Who knows, maybe the right location will turn you into one of those people who leave inspirational notes all over the place. Or not. 

Humanities & Social Sciences Library (McLennan-Redpath) 

Pros:

Amenities include coffee and bagels

Probably the best luck you’ll have finding a spot due to sheer desk space 

This is where the puppies are usually brought for student de-stress! 

Great location

Open 24 hours during exams 

Cons:

You’re going to be in close proximity to a large number of people, so if you can’t stand those people that take off their shoes, stay away 

You’ll run into someone you know, guaranteed (whether or not this is a con is dependent upon many factors, one of which being: are they your ex?) 

Nahum Gelber Law Library

Pros:

Conducive to staying focused as you’re usually surrounded by older law students 

That being said, usually a lower Facebook to actual open book ratio, if other students’ screens distract you 

Beautiful, lots of sunlight 

Quite Quiet 

Has a cafeteria 

Close to Second Cup (located in Stewart Biology) 

Open 24 hours during exams 

Cons:

A bit more of a trek from campus

Not near any restaurants 

No eating rule pretty strictly enforced 

Marvin Duchow Music Library

Pros:

Potentially really awesome study breaks, as the record collection is extensive 

Very quiet 

Very bright, huge windows 

Closest to Starbucks 

Cons:

Less actual study space, you have to arrive pretty early to grab a spot

Limited hours  

Closest to Starbucks…

Schulich Library of Science & Engineering

Pros:

Closest to Tim Hortons 

More private desk space, as many desks face walls

24 hour access during exams

Cons:

Is that construction driving anyone else crazy? Are they building a library on top of this library?

Birks Reading Room:

Pros:

You get to take your shoes off! 

Extremely quiet 

Good location 

Cons:

Other people have to take their shoes off! 

Not the most comfortable seating

Extremely limited hours 

Islamic Studies Library 

Pros: 

Beautiful architecture, if thats of importance to you 

Very quiet 

Great location 

Cons:

Can be considered a little too quiet if you like to sneak in a snack or whisper with friends 

Not a ton of seating 

Really limited hours 

 

If you require a little human interaction and noise to get through the ordeal, here is a list of a few surrounding cafes:

Chai Tea Lounge

Pros:

Yummy drinks 

Great tunes 

Comfortable seating 

Most who hang out here are studying so it’s not too loud 

Cons:

On the expensive side 

Really, really busy during exams so you have to get there early for a seat 

Cafe Bistro El Mundo

Pros:

Food! Wraps, sandwiches, salads, soups, etc. 

Same owner as Chai Tea Lounge, just as student-friendly 

Comfortable booths 

Cons:

Also gets very busy, early arrival is necessary to grab said comfortable booth 

Music can get loud 

Typically also non-students eating, so noise levels are higher 

Humble Lion

Pros:

Great coffee

Right next to campus 

Great tunes 

Cons:

Small space

Limited seating 

Starbucks

Pros:

Comfortable seating 

Large space 

They sometimes hand out free leftover snacks at the end of the day 

Cons:

A lot of traffic past all of the available tables which can be distracting 

Music can be quite loud 

Second Cup

Pros:

A ton of tables 

Close to campus 

Cons:

All of the tables are very close together, you’ll hear your neighbours’ conversations whether you want to or not 

Dark lighting 

 

Am I missing some pros or cons, popular hangouts, or have I gotten something wrong? Let me know in the comment section below!  Oh, and good luck. 

Ella is a second year McGill University student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Honours Philosophy and Political Science. She is Interested in Civil Rights and Family Law, Social Justice, Social Media and Journalism. In her spare time she enjoy's reading both classics and current trends and writing about absolutely anything.
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