Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Aliisa Lee ’16

Honolulu • English View Profile

Books and Crannies

A tour of my favorite study spots and libraries

At Princeton, in addition to eating, hanging with friends, participating in fantastic classes and activities—all that jazz—we also do this thing called studying. For real! So just as much as everyone needs to have places to socialize, most people have little nooks and crannies on campus where they can slip away to study or read. 

Let me take you for a little tour of my favorite study spots and libraries!

1) My own room

Well, we didn't have to go so far for that. 

my room
My desk is always this neat

I'm currently living with three super cool girls in a quad, which consists of two doubles connected by a common room. In my room and Alissa's, we have our bunk beds, closets, and then just enough room for one desk and bookshelf. Alissa, Brielle, and Lynse have their desks in our common room, which means I can tuck away into the bedroom if I need to really study.

I'll sit at my desk, losing myself in the Whitman courtyard in front of me and whatever music I have on around me. In fact, it reminds me of a line from one of my favorite musicals, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella: 

cinderella quote

I relate to you Cinderella, I relate. However, sometimes in my own little corner, in my own little chair, in my own little comfort zone, I just want to be unproductive. 

Maybe I'll get up and arrange my furniture that I brought from home. 

dollhouse
A very sweet family. Once afternoon, my roomies and I actually sat down with this kitchen and some of

Maybe I'll tip forward on my chair and engage in my favorite mode of procrastination: taking close up shots of things around me. 

brush
True beauty

In times when I realize I'm squinting in front of my hairbrush and wake up to what I'm doing with my life, I'll traverse for a change of scenery over to

2) The third floor of Frist

frist
I really like windows

On the third floor of Frist Campus Center, there's this beautiful area dedicated to quiet study. The desks are laid out so that people can sit directly next to or across from you, but the tables are long enough and the lighting fixtures are arranged such that I've never felt cramped, even when the area's pretty much filled. Still, the presence of others is a nice gentle nudge reminding you that you probably want to get work done. 

It's especially great working in Frist because, as you may know from my last post, Frist is where Late Meal is at. The times I've been at Frist later in the night, I've been jokingly accused by my roomies (I think they're joking) of harboring a secret boyfriend over there. I came back this one time to find written on the chalkboard outside our room:

secret
We have a rule in our hall that if you don't answer your chalkboard question, you will face "consequences." I'm not sure what those are, and I don't really want to find out.

It appeared my answer was deemed unsatisfactory.

boyfriend
It was deemed unsatisfactory, but I thought it was pretty good.

Besides the rows of long tables, there is also one random desk at the far end of Frist. 

frist desk
A little corner and a little chair

The times I do choose to study there, chilling just with myself and my camera, the threat of distraction does arise again.

Hand
I can't help it.

3) Assorted libraries

Though Whitman and Frist are my home study nests, I have migrated around a bit to campus libraries like the Mathey/Rocky Library and a few others, including one of the newest and coolest libraries on campus, Lewis Library.

Lewis library
Lewis Library: the coolest library

It's in the area of campus closer to buildings of departments like math, physics, and astronomy, so it usually attracts more of their students. Still, since I took a class in astronomy (AST 205, love of my life) last semester, English/Art concentrator Aliisa spent a good bit of time in the bold, sleek Lewis Library. 

I mostly liked to leave the other students presents in the scrap catalogue cards.

study hard drawing
I love when I find other people's doodles, so I sometimes leave my own.

Another library of note is Marquand Library, which is connected to the Art Museum and more important, is the first library I ever fell asleep in. I don't know what else they expect students to do when there are such comfy couches.

marquand
When I woke up, I found myself being watched by a friend I hadn't seen since freshman fall. She waved at me tentatively when she saw my eyes opening.

Now these libraries are certainly excellent, but to me, there's nothing like

4)  Firestone Library

Even its name promises greatness! I actually do not spend a significant amount of time studying here, and probably partly because of this, I always find a bit of adventure in Firestone. There is so much character in its books and basement floors that twist down through the core of the earth, I can't help but feel the place is a work of fiction itself. Let me give you a few tastes of what I love there.  

Firestone has been undergoing renovations since I've been here, which means while there are some pockets of sparkling classrooms and bookshelves, most of the lower floors are still older or under construction. Thus, you can walk around a bit, turn a corner here or there, and go from a view like this:

spanking beautiful
Snazzy.

To something like this:

creepy hallway
Sketchy Firestone.

Personally, I kind of like this dichotomy. 

As great as the golden silence of Firestone's polished areas might be, there's something thrilling in the mutters of machinery that skulk in the corridors. It's probably also because I like to pretend I'm the protagonist of the game Portal.

My favorite color copier:

color printer
Someone REALLY wanted to emphasize this thing does color.

And one of my favorite reading spots in Firestone:

study spot
It's a kind of corner.

I mean, just look at that! You walk through a forest of books on one of the lowest floors, then burst through to this spiraling staircase, all lit by a halo of light cut in the ceiling! Plus, there is a handy dictionary waiting there to aid you in any vocabulary struggles you may come across.

dictionary
I would like to be a dictionary illustrator one day.

Of course, a key allure of a library is its books. And Firestone has books. 

books
Books. And books and books and books.

You can't walk through without being drenched in the perfume of pages waiting to be turned. The coverless nature of most of the books give them an extra classy feel, like the ones Belle reads in Beauty and the Beast. I love wandering through the floors, searching for a few specific titles, armed against the millions with only a few call numbers on a scrap of paper. Sometimes as I walk down the aisles, I'll run a hand along the books and murmur their names as my fingers bump over their spines. Is that really weird?

books
It just makes me glad to be alive.

I actually don't read for leisure half as much as I want to or should, but there are some times when I'll hear of some great author or find a list of 30 books you should read before you die, and then be inspired to dive into Firestone for them.

On one such occasion, I checked out at the circulation desk when my friend Eve was running it. 

lotsa books

I looked down proudly at my beautiful hardbound books and realized just how incredibly pleased I was with them, their beauty, and the fact that I wandered through the depths of Firestone in pursuit of them. I probably wouldn't read them all, but knowing that I could lose myself in certain worlds and places, in special books and crannies, was so satisfying. So when Eve said,

eve

I responded with all possible joy, 

i love books

They were for Aliisa!