This article appears in the 2007 edition of The Sun’s annual Freshman Issue.
Cornell is home to over 20 — count ’em — 20 University libraries. With so many to choose from, where you decide to study just depends on what you’re looking for. Each study area at Cornell has a personality of its own.
Uris Library has been dubbed “Club Uris” by students who see the humor in the fact that, on any given Sunday through Tuesday night, the Cocktail Lounge is the place to be.
Connected to the clock tower, Uris Library is the primary undergraduate library at Cornell. There are many copies of books on reserve here, as well as carrels and places to study.
Uris is also home to the Andrew Dickson White Library, containing the books of Cornell’s first president, which has a unique look with its wrought-iron balconies. The Tower Café is a good place to grab a late-night coffee or snack to keep you up all hours of the night as needed, and, for those willing to take the plunge, the Fishbowl offers appealingly voyeuristic study opportunities.
Uris Library is open 24 hours a day, Sunday through Thursday. That’s right, students can make their party rounds and then get right back to Club Uris for after-hours studying. Hey, with 24-hour access, who needs to pay rent? Just bring a sleeping bag!
Olin and Kroch Libraries
For those looking for more of a lounge than a club, Olin Library may become your library of choice. Although not in use until all hours of the night like its neighbor Uris, Olin still keeps its doors open until an impressive 2 a.m. Olin has other draws as well. It is Cornell’s central research library, complete with its own periodical room. The Libe Café on the main level is home to the Iced Skim Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte (dubbed The Long Island by the Cafés’ employees) and the best chocolate brownies this side of the Finger Lakes.
One of the nicest features of Olin Libe is the wrap-around window that looks out onto the Arts Quad, though some may find the view a distraction. The decor in Olin is also newer and more comfortable than at Uris. But here’s a tip: Get there early. On a Saturday morning one may find a line of eager students waiting to get the best spots (the desks by the window), and on any given weekday you may have to wait for a desk or move on. Attached to Olin is Kroch Library, which houses the Asian and the Rare and Manuscript Collections. Any noise above a whisper is prohibited in the Kroch Library. Some of the study areas, such as the Asian Reading Room, may sound like an oasis to some, but only those who are truly committed to sitting still should venture there.
Beyond Olin and Uris
The variety in libraries at Cornell affords students a chance to mix it up. More specialized libraries include Mann Library, which serves the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Human Ecology. Mann Library sits on the outskirts of the Ag Quad. Its ends-of-the-earth location, made worse by Ithaca’s cold winter weather, makes studying at Mann Library too much of a trek for some students, but many others recommend its spacious halls for this very reason.
Catherwood Library, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations library, located in Ives Hall, is a daytime hotspot and is newly furnished. Other spaces include libraries for engineering, Africana studies, fine arts, entomology, management, math, physical sciences, hotel administration and the Law Library in Myron Taylor Hall with its beautiful gothic ceiling. In the Music Library in Lincoln Hall one can listen to music as well as resources on musicians from the Beatles to Tupac Shakur.
Apart from the University libraries is the Browsing Library off the main lobby of the Straight, a good place for magazines, papers and books to read for pleasure. The Alternatives Library is in 127 Anabel Taylor Hall, and if one ventures past Cornell’s campus, the Tompkins County Public Library is located in downtown Ithaca.