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Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Michelle Greenfield ’18

Phoenix, Arizona • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology View Profile

Which Library?

The underestimated aspect of a college campus

A library seems like such a mundane thing. It’s a place where books are kept and people go to study. It’s probably a simple thing that no one thinks about when choosing a college. However, until you get to college, you don’t realize just how much time you will actually spend in the library. It becomes such an important aspect of your college experience, that I would argue a visit to the library is a must on a college tour. Libraries give you a vibe for the school, and since every library is different (including all of ours on campus), you can get a feel for what works best for you.

Princeton currently has 10 libraries. Some, such as Firestone, Lewis or Marquand library, are more frequently visited than others, but each has its own flair. I find that when students are picking their library of choice, it depends a lot upon their mood and what they wish to get out of their study experience. My first year I studied in Firestone, our central library, because I liked the individual desks and the fact that it was closest to my dorm. However, towards the end of the year, I shied away from Firestone because it became too dark for my liking, and I had unhappy memories of studying for a difficult exam there. I tried out Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology once, but I didn’t like the giant windows because people walking by always distracted me. I also tried the Fine annex, home to the math department, but for some reason, it just didn’t feel right to me. Then I visited Lewis Science Library, which is now my current choice. This building, built by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry in 2008, is so interesting architecturally both inside and outside. There are super comfortable chairs inside; there is a "tree house," an elevated study space in which you can only trees; there is good lighting; and it is very close to my current dorm and favorite dining hall.

Some of my friends really enjoy the East Asian Library, located in Frist Campus Center, because it is conveniently located two stories above Frist’s café, which means when late meal rolls around, they can run downstairs to get some snacks and then get back to studying. Others have found the Architecture Library nice and quiet. Mudd Manuscript Library contains all of the pas senior theses and has really rare and exciting documents. There’s even a Mendel Music Library for those who like to study in the music building.

Essentially, there are so many types of libraries on campus, that you can find one that will best suit your needs. And what I have often found is that a library will work for one class, but when I’m studying for another, I need a location change. That’s why it’s nice to have the variation on campus.  

So I encourage all of you that when you’re on your college tour at Princeton, take a moment to peak into a library. I know that on our Orange Key tours, we make a point of emphasizing Firestone (the 2ndlargest open stack library, by the way!), but definitely check out some of the others when you come to visit.

Feel free to write if you have any questions about our libraries. In the mean time, I’ll be typing away in my favorite chair in Lewis, second floor right outside the tree house.