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An image of Orozoco Mural Room

It's always interesting to ask my peers (and to browse People Places Pines blogs) about the study spaces at Dartmouth that attract students the most. What room of the library are they most likely to occupy to crank out that essay, to check over that problem set, or to discuss a group project? What I find most interesting is the variance in replies. 3FB (Third Floor Berry)? How about Sanborn Library? Is Rauner Library some people's favorite?

A map of baker-berry library
This is a cross-section of Baker-Berry Library--I was going to draw arrows where one could study, but then I realized that I'd have to draw arrows over the entire diagram.

So, what factors come into play when choosing a study spot on the Dartmouth campus? I have compiled a list of characteristics of study spaces that potentially cover all the aspects that students consider when deciding their study spot.

1. Natural light

If there's one thing Dartmouth students love, it's natural light. Especially during the cold and dark winter months, I don't want to spend my hours of daylight in a room with no windows! But at the same time, if I plan to spend a long time in the library, I don't want to be in a place where I can see the sun quickly setting, which can dampen the mood. That's why I prefer the open and airy Rauner Library (or any place with windows) for a quick mid-day study session, where I can take in the sun even without being outside. But for long nights, a session in the windowless but bright East Asian Reading Room is preferable!

2. Physical personal comfort – chair comfort, temperature, lighting

Making sure that I'm comfortable when I'm studying makes the session go even more pleasantly! The library has a large variety of chairs ranging from cushy armchairs to hard but ergonomic wooden chairs. When I feel like sitting in a comfy chair after a long day of walking around, I'll opt for a chair that will swallow me whole that is present in the Tower Room, Sanborn Library, and other spots. There's always a wooden plank nearby to place on the armrests, so my laptop stays in place. But when I know that I need to focus on my work, I may choose a hard wooden chair—they remind me to stay focused!

Perhaps one may prefer warm lighting to cool lighting—that can vary depending on the lamps and lights available in each space, too! Whether one chooses the cool-toned lights of the Irving building on the west side of campus or the orange lights of the Orozco Mural room, there's a space for everyone.

An image of Orozoco Mural Room
The mural of the Orozco Mural Room truly adds warm colors (and striking images) into the mix.

On the topic of warmth, there's temperature variance in different rooms as well! The toasty Tower Room will keep anyone warm during the winter months, but if I get worried about falling asleep due to the cozy warmth, I could also head to the chillier Stacks in Berry Library.

Hey, and when I'm hungry, I could always park in a booth in the Class of '53 Commons, our dining hall, where food is available all day.

3. Privacy vs. accountability

This is a big one; how much privacy does one desire when they study? But how can one make sure that they are not getting distracted for too long? I like to rely on some accountability from my peers to make sure that I am studying; that could mean studying with friends at tables or studying in a more open space where others may be studying alongside me. Prefer privacy? There are cubicles available all over the library, and even empty classrooms can be a great way to study with no one around.

4. Amount of silence  

There's a general agreement at Dartmouth: The higher the floor in the library, the quieter the study space. I do not mind some noise and prefer to sit in quiet but not silent areas. However, there's a spectrum of all volumes present on campus, from the usually talkative 1FB (First Floor of Berry Library) to the silent 4FB (Fourth Floor of Berry Library—get it?)

5. Academic aesthetic

And of course…there's the vibe. I love that I have the freedom to choose between the sleeker, modern styles of Berry Library and the Engineering and Computer Science Center (ECSC) and the old, wooden style of the Sherman Art Library or Sanborn Library. I can even choose to live the café-study life with One Wheelock in the Collis Center, or Still North Books and Bar, which is just a walk down the street. I'll usually choose the wooden shelves of Baker Library, but that's just me.

So…what's my favorite study spot? Well, it changes every term! I like to keep things open. (And perhaps that is a blog for another time…)

Until next time!

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