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A picture of a brick wall embedded into a modern building. Through the windows in the wall, stacks of books are visible.

It's easy to get caught up in habits. If you aren't careful, you can fall almost effortlessly into the trap of doing the same thing daily. In college, this often manifests in the places where I spend my time. Although I've been exploring a lot of new activities and experiences recently, the spaces I inhabit at Dartmouth have been constant. So this week, I'm starting a new initiative: Nooks and Crannies! I hope this will be a fun way to explore the minutiae of areas of campus I'm not familiar with. I'll look for new study spots, art installations, and intriguing finds across campus. Today, this takes me to the Baker Stacks.

I think the stacks are somewhat of a "boring" spot on campus for some students. They're a silent locale where people go to cram for finals or to hunt for that specific theory book they need for class. But the stacks are also so much more: they're pools of a near-infinite amount of fascinating material, exciting locations, and things to explore. Let's jump in.

After entering the stacks at the intersection of Baker Library and Berry Library—connected buildings—I started my descent to Annex B. Although it looks nearly identical to the rest of the stacks, the Annex's location makes it a great study spot for people who want to work without distractions. Located two stories underground and through a hard-to-spot hallway, Annex B is one of the most secret areas of the library complex.

A picture of many rows of library book stacks fading into the distance
The stacks in Annex B go on for a while.

Next, I started the long trek up the many layers of staircases. Usually, I would use the Stacks elevator, but this time, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any hidden gems on the way up. On the second floor, I found a collection of old Spanish dictionaries that looked really neat! The stacks are sectioned off by subject matter, so the shelves surrounding this one all contain literature about the Spanish language. 

A photo of a bookshelf containing several large, antique Spanish dictionaries
That's a lot of palabras.

Next, I headed through a small doorway on the second level into the East Asian Room, a super cozy and inviting study spot with a distinctly different feel from the rest of the stacks. The long rooms are packed with literature, theoretical texts, and reference books written in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. I tried in vain for a few minutes to read a random book written in simplified Chinese, but my exclusive knowledge of traditional characters held me back a bit.

A photo of a long room in a library with a red wall. On the wall is a piece of traditional Chinese calligraphy.
A table in the East Asian room.

Next, I continued my upward march to level 5, where I entered the connector, a long glass tunnel that connects level 5 of the Baker stacks to the third floor of Berry Library. Despite the lack of chairs or tables, I found a surprising number of people hunkered down in the connector, working on their laptops and enjoying the great view of campus.

Next, I ascended to level 6, where I thought my journey was over. But that's when I discovered something intriguing. Aside from being the only level with windows to the outside world, level 6 also contains a single mysterious upward staircase. This staircase leads to an old wooden door with a plaque that reads "Scholar Studies." Although I couldn't find much info about the mysterious 7th level online, the floor holds several rooms that faculty or graduate students can book to contain large-scale research projects.

Finally, I left the stacks, where my eye was drawn to a series of sculptures. I've been in this part of the library hundreds of times, but I'd never noticed the set of bronze-cast clay works by artist Peter Voulkos. It shows that no matter how well you know a place, there are always more things to discover.

A photo of a large bronze sculpture in front of a brick wall.
"Big Missoula" by Peter Voulkos

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