Flipping through UC Berkeley’s libraries

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Libraries at UC Berkeley are like McDonald’s and Starbucks in New York City: everywhere you look, there is going to be one. Some libraries are more famous than others (looking at you, Doe), and some are more intense than others (once again, Doe). Each one is unique, however, and is always worth a look into. So, that’s exactly what I attempted to do. 

Doe Memorial Library is perhaps the most famous and well-known library on campus. The environment in Doe is, in every definition of the word, intense. Walking in, there is a distinct buzz in the air. After careful observation, I have come to the conclusion that the “smarticle particles” floating around are the source of this buzz. The marble along the floors and stairs do not do much to ease this intensity. Walking upstairs, there is the centerpiece, the cherry-on-top — the study hall. This gigantic room with ceilings so high is where the buzz climaxes. Rows upon rows of students are the first thing one notices. The silence is the next. This silence is not normal silence: it is advanced silence. This silence is so palpable, I could hear my hopes and dreams shatter as soon as I walked in. In summary, this is the place to be if you thrive in intensity and silence. And to everyone else: this ain’t it, chief.

The C.V. Starr East Asian Library is easily my favorite library on campus. It combines everything I like about each library and puts them into one masterclass of a library. Doe’s silence may be unbearable, and on the other end of the spectrum, Moffitt’s low-key conversation makes concentrating tough. The East Asian library combines these two vastly different vibes into one peaceful, silent yet friendly environment that makes everyone feel welcome. It is also in a very central location, situated about 45 seconds away from Doe, and about a minute from Moffitt. To add on top of all these benefits, the East Asian library also has air conditioning, making it a safe haven for those of us who find heat and the sun unbearable. Essentially, the East Asian library is a godsend with something for everyone.

Moffitt Library is one of the more interesting libraries on campus. In terms of location, it is pretty simple to find and makes getting to most classes relatively convenient. It’s showpiece, though, is the dynamic environment. Like any other library, there are multiple levels, but that’s where the similarities stop. On the fifth floor, there is plenty of space to study. One floor below, however, is the buzz floor. People talking, interacting and general student life manifesting itself on a single floor of the library makes for an interesting experience. It may make concentration tough, but then again, that IS what the fourth floor is for. 

An unexpected library that I really appreciated was the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library, which is located on the first floor of Hildebrand Hall. As a freshman, I have not studied extensively in any one library, and the ones where I have studied at have been the seriously notable ones, such as Doe or Moffitt. As such, it came as a surprise to me when I realized how much I liked this library. Although there may not be many seats, the general vibe in the library was very chill and easygoing. It was basically like the East Asian Library, but on a much smaller scale. As a bonus, there is a stand café located right beneath it that sells drinks and snacks, and there are some seating arrangements on the outside of the library, in case you desire to work in the natural environment. It is a very convenient library that I will definitely end up frequenting.

The Marian Koshland Bioscience, Natural Resources and Public Health Library located in the Valley Life Sciences Building is worth a mention solely because of the T-rex skeleton situated right outside. I have not spent more than five minutes in this library, and as such my opinion of it is not to be taken seriously. This does not stop me from having a rollercoaster of a relationship with it within those five minutes. The T-rex definitely gets it some points in the appeal department. They did not carry the calculus textbook I was hoping to check out, however, despite OskiCat telling me that the book was definitely in the library. It is definitely worth a second visit but I will definitely be much more wary and look past the epicness of that skeleton.

There are a ton of libraries on campus. I simply took a look at a few of the popular ones and judged them from a somewhat biased point of view (the East Asian library will forever have my heart). There are many more libraries worth studying in, however, and seeing as I’m still a freshman, I look forward to going to each one and experiencing the various interdisciplinary cultures in each one.

Contact Hamzah Alam at [email protected].