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The storm that is finals is right around the corner, and Butler is preparing itself for the stampede of stressed students. Before all the seats are taken and the line for Blue Java is out the door, get to know all the study rooms in Butler.

On a Thursday night, I investigated the 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


This space is primarily for the two F’s: food and friends (the third F is reserved for the stacks *wink wink*). The humming of the vending machine and chatting students might make it hard to focus, however, 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: Plenty, but it’s mostly artificial
  • utlets: Minimal—there are some along the periphery of room, but few in the middle.

209 reading room

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

  • Crowd level: Can usually find single seats. Not ideal for couples.
  • Temperature: NYC at 6 p.m. in November, sans global warming. That is to say, cold.
  • Noise level: Silent
  • Light: Well-lit with additional lighting provided by Peter’s peg leg
  • Outlets: A few in the tables

210 reading room

Accessible through the door at the west end of 209, this space is tucked away, but 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
  • Temeprature: NYC at 6 p.m. in November, with global warming
  • Noise level: Silent
  • Light: Fairly well-lit, but not as intense as 209
  • Outlets: Minimal

Floor 3

310 reading room

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

  • Crowd level: Mail room during the first week of school
  • Temperature: Satan’s man cave
  • Noise level: Silent
  • Light: Plenty—you’ll have no trouble watching Netflix doing homework.
  • Outlets: A ton on the first level and some on the west side balcony

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 for Halloween
  • Temperature: Not too hot, not too cold—just right
  • Noise level: Silent with some added echoing
  • Light: Glowy, thanks to the iconic chandeliers
  • Outlets: Enough to keep you charged up

303 reading room

This room feels tucked away because you have to go through the printing room or 304 to get to it. There are a few tables for four in the main area, and there are a few small round tables in the alcoves to the left.

  • Crowd level: Crowded, for a “secret” room
  • Temperature: Pretty comfortable
  • Noise level: Quiet
  • Light: Good, natural light
  • Outlets: Minimal

304 reading room

If you’re looking for a desk with privacy, 304’s your best choice. This room has many individual carrels, as well as communal tables. Plus, there are plenty of outlets!

  • Crowd level: Packed. What else would you expect from the third floor of Butler?
  • Temperature: On the warmer side
  • Noise level: Low
  • Light: Moderately dim
  • Outlets: Many

Floor 4

401 Periodicals and Microforms Reading Room

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 Columbia quad.

  • Crowd level: Trader Joe’s on a Tuesday morning—i.e., empty
  • Temperature: A heatless Brooks Hall dorm in the winter
  • Noise level: Silent with droning buzz of lights and AC
  • Light: Standard lamps overhead. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.
  • Outlets: About four per table, so enough

403 reading room

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 two floors of the But. (Side note: This room kind of smells like an actual butt, so tread carefully.)

  • Crowd level: Your 8:40 in mid-March
  • Temperature: John Jay dorm in August
  • Noise level: Silent with droning buzz of lights and heat
  • Light: Fair—nothing special, but enough to get you through the next chapter
  • Outlets: Some at the tables, but minimal

Floor 5

American History & Literature (502), Latin American Studies (503), and Moral and Political Theory and Early Modern/Modern Europe (504) Research 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. Plus, these rooms are usually reserved for grad students, so if you’re an undergrad, it might be a safer bet to pick rooms on the other floors.

  • Crowd level: Carman basement—empty
  • Temperature: Warm
  • Noise level: Hush hush
  • Light: Enough—won’t be good for those of you who need a brightly lit room
  • Outlets: Likewise, enough

Floor 6

African Studies, Islamic, and Papyrus Research Reading Rooms

Here, you’ll find standard study spaces that aren’t too crowded. If you just want to get work done with no frills or distractions, venture to one of these rooms. However, these spaces are not open 24 hours.

  • Crowd level: Ferris at 3 p.m.
  • Temperature: Ice ice, baby
  • Noise level: Silent
  • Light: Not bright enough to hide your tears
  • Outlets: A few per table

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. While it looks terrifying, there are actually a few student carrels on the north side of the seventh floor that undergraduates can use if graduate students aren’t using them.

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? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Isabella Monaco is a Spectrum’s associate editor and a Barnard first-year. You can find her pacing the balconies of 310. Reach her at

academics library butler finals reading week studying
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