October 6, 2014

O-Issue 2014: Libraries

Take a group of friends to the Reg to hang out on the first floor and procrastinate the night away, or go to Eckhart and wipe out some problem sets solo: The libraries are versatile and mutable, and how you perceive them depends on how you use them.


Upon your first visit to UChicago, the first library you’ll notice is the imposing Regenstein Library, or “the Reg.” Notable for its location on the site of the University’s former football stadium, Stagg Field, the symbolism is not lost on students or administrators, most of whom recognize the Reg’s importance as the de facto hub of University activity.

On any given day, one can see the Reg populated by economics study groups in the A-Level, coffee-addled writers with a looming deadline, and idle students who pretend to work but just want a place to chill. Tables are arranged throughout the seven floors (nowhere quite as concentrated as the interconnected second and third floors) but for those seeking comfort and possibly a quick nap, a better bet might be the couches arranged near the windows. Those interested in privacy should take solace in the equally widespread cubicles that are interspersed on almost all floors.

The Reg might not be known for its positive, chilled-out vibes or the niche that it serves, but it instead makes its presence known through sheer scope and widespread usefulness. Whatever your needs are, they can most likely be served in some fashion by the Reg’s extensive collection.


Just a short hallway away, the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library offers a new study experience. Rows of desks with charging outlets fill the domed structure, and the extreme silence that pervades the area makes it clear that this is an exclusively study-oriented space. Mansueto is so quiet that even the sounds of students packing up and leaving often draw restless looks from the other patrons, sneezes or coughs prompting death stares. The flipside to this, of course, is that this is one of the prime studying areas on campus: free of distractions, home to an underground 3.5 million–book storage area that is OPERATED BY A ROBOT, and still within short walking distance of dining commons. Several movies, TV shows, and ad campaigns have been filmed in Mansueto since it opened in 2011.

Arley D. Cathey Learning Center

Despite its clinical-sounding name, which it only got this past school year, Cathey, more commonly known as Harper, is one of the most relaxed and homey studying areas in the University. Found right next to the Common Knowledge Café, the former Harper Reading Room has comfortable seating, placement close to classrooms, and plentiful electric outlets. On any given night, the space will be filled with students either finishing up their papers or succumbing to the sleeping surface that couches on either side of the area offer.

The quiet façade in Harper disguises a vibrant social atmosphere, with “Harper selfies” and Facebook chats across tables common distractions from the day-to-day studying. This, along with the inviting decoration and wood furnishings, makes Harper one of the most appealing places to work. The hours also promote long-term visits, with the library open all day from Sunday mornings to Friday afternoons, giving visitors a reliable location for all-nighters.


Found in Eckhart Hall, home to the Department of Mathematics, Eckhart Library is home to, as might be guessed, math volumes and textbooks. However, despite the dry, precise space that these facts might imply, Eckhart gives off a stylish aura, with as much attention paid to artful, aesthetically pleasing design as to ergonomics and effective study space.


Your first visit to Crerar, the science library, might be a bit of a bait-and-switch: The building looks relatively unassuming, and even peering inside doesn’t indicate anything abnormal about the space, but once you step inside you realize that this is, without a doubt, the quietest study space on campus. In addition, the resources here are immense. The halls contain 1.4 million volumes, and the size of the library itself means that there is plenty of room to spread out and find a place to make your own. Feel free to study here if you like your mind to be absolutely undisturbed, or find a quiet spot and relax if you prefer; it’s unlikely you’ll be interrupted.

D’Angelo Law Library

If you’re looking for a change of pace, a way to get some space and an area away from most of the undergraduate population, the D’Angelo Law Library might be right for you. As an undergraduate student, you will see few friends or classmates, but the professional ambience is well worth it for some. The most like an office building of all the libraries, the Law Library nevertheless attracts its fair share of students looking for an alternative to the Regenstein-Mansueto-Harper trifecta. For the film buffs out there, D’Angelo also has one of the more comprehensive DVD collections in the school, with selections like The Wire and The Godfather available, in contrast with the more academic selections that might be found in other libraries.


Last but definitely not least, found right near South Campus housing and Burton-Judson, the Social Services Administration Library is a comfortable, fun library, somewhat understated when looked at in comparison to behemoths like the Reg. Couches are spread throughout, and a relaxed vibe permeates the space. This library might be the one least visited by undergraduates, but it still acts as a valuable foil to the imposing atmosphere of some of the other libraries.