Article Image
@kylierogers / via Instagram

Discouraging, draining, and endless. No, I'm not talking about this past election—I'm talking about the Butler Seat Search.

Having to endure awkward eye contact with those who are seated and are pitying you is not a good way to pregame your all-nighter in the But.

On a Thursday night, I investigated the study rooms on the second through sixth floors by sitting in each for five minutes to get the ~real feel~. Here's a guide that will save you those 20 minutes (if you're lucky) of frantic searching so you can get on the grind ASAP.

Floor 2

Butler Lounge

This space is primarily for the two Fs: food and friends (the third F is reserved for the stacks *wink wink*). The humming of the vending machine and chatting might make it hard to focus if you prefer to study in silence. This is the perfect place to go if you want to grab a bite at Blue Java and send some emails or meet for a group project.

Crowd level:   (1020 before the basketball team rolls up) Temperature: (Temperate af) Noise level: (Barnard during construction hours) Light: (More than enough to scroll through Facebook)

209-210 Reading Room

The focal point of this reading room is the large stained glass window, lit 24/7, of Peter Stuyvesant. You know him as the dude in bloomers who's responsible for building Broadway. This space packs an extra punch of motivation: Peter stares down on the carrels, reminding students that—if they work hard enough—they, too, can be lit day and night forever.

Crowd level: (Usually can find single seats. Not ideal for couples.) Temperature:  (NYC at 6 p.m. in November, sans global warming) Noise level: Light:   (Illuminated by Peter’s peg leg)


Found through the door to your left as you exit 209, this space is tucked away yet still quite populated. This reading room features a mix of carrels and tables, and the balcony around the perimeter adds some extra class.

Crowd level: (Ferris pasta line) Temperature: (NYC at 6 p.m. in November, with global warming) Noise level: Light: (Sensual)

Floor 3


Finding a seat in this room, especially in the balconies, is arguably harder than getting accepted to Columbia. While it's one of the dimmest study spaces in Butler and always a bit on the warm side, this room is so charming that you won't even care.

Crowd level: (Mailroom during the first week of school) Temperature: (Satan’s library) Noise level: Light: (Brighter than America’s future, though)

301 Lawrence A. Wien Reference Room

Good luck finding a seat in Butler's best-known room. After studying here for hours, the chandeliers somehow lose their grandeur.

Crowd level: (The line at Mel’s during Halloween) Temperature: Noise level: (With some added echoing) Light: (Thanks to the iconic chandeliers)

Floor 4

Periodicals and Microforms Reading Room 401

Nothing fuels productivity more than the drone of buzzing lights and the smell of old newspapers. Some redeemable qualities include the abundance of light and seating and the great view of the quad.

Crowd level: (Trader Joe’s on a Tuesday morning) Temperature: (A heatless Brooks dorm in December) Noise level:  (With droning buzz of lights and heat) Light: (Standard lamps overhead. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.)

Milstein Reading Room 403

This large room is pretty generic. It's bright, very quiet, and a bit warm, but the latter could be because I had just climbed four floors of the But.

Crowd level: (Your 8:40 in mid-October) Temperature: (Brooks dorm in August) Noise level:  (With droning buzz of lights and heat) Light: (Well lit, no good way to hide your under-eye bags)

Floor 5

American History & Literature (503), Latin American Studies, and Moral & Political Theory and Early & Early Modern History (504) Reading Rooms

The fifth floor has three smaller reading rooms with the expected book-lined walls, carrels, and tables. However, don't get too cozy because it's not a 24-hour space.

Crowd level: (Diana basement) Temperature: (Altschul 202) Noise level: Light: (New York at 4 p.m., post-daylight savings)

Floor 6

African Studies Research Reading Room

Here, you'll find another standard study space that's not too crowded.  If you just want to get work done with no frills or distractions, this is the place. However, this space is not open 24 hours.

Crowd level: (Hewitt) Temperature: ?? ?? ?? (Altschul in general) Noise level: Light: (Just dark enough to hide your tears)

Floor 7-9

I made the mistake of wandering up too many floors and found myself in a network of long, narrow hallways. I ended my adventure there and made a run for it.

There are other, more hidden study spaces in Butler, but I'll save those rooms for you to find. There's no better feeling than discovering new nooks and crannies in which to spend your over-caffeinated nights.

Know of any more good study spots in the But? Comment down below, Tweet us, Facebook message us, or Snapchat us at @CUSpectrum.

Isabella Monaco is a Spectrum staff writer and a Barnard first-year. You can find her pacing the balconies of 310. Reach her at

All photos for Spectrum by Isabella Monaco.

butler library help academics
From Around the Web