The W. E.B. Du Bois Library is the second tallest library in the world and the tallest library at any university. Students use it as a landmark to navigate around campus, yet this famous building remains one of the most unexplored buildings the University of Massachusetts has to offer on campus.
Many students do not even know the famous civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois or why the library is named after him. Du Bois was one of the co-founders of the NAACP and his work helped pioneer the Niagara Movement, a black rights movement in the early 20th century. The library houses the memoirs and papers of Du Bois after former Chancellor Randolph Bromery obtained them because he was a friend of Du Bois. The library was originally named “The Library Tower” and was renamed after a movement by faculty and students on campus in 1994. Inside the library, each floor has its own style and features that draw different students’ interests. Deepika Singh, a freshman, visits the library almost every other day and spends most of her time on the lower level floor.
“I don’t like quiet floors because I can’t make noise. I like all the comfy chairs and computers on this floor,” she said.
The lower level floor, also known as the Learning Commons, is one of the most popular floors in the entire library that a majority of students are familiar with. The Learning Commons feature academic advising, circulation/reserves/interlibrary, loan and document delivery, research assistance, tech support, printing, computers and many other work areas ranging in noise level. Singh mainly stays on this floor and roams between the three work areas.
Daniel Edward has a different approach to exploring the library.
“I randomize it – I go to the floor I’ve been to the least,” he said.
His strategy has allowed him to explore a large portion of the library but with 26 floors, he still has ground to cover.
“It’s always fun, looking wherever you end up what book you find…you’d be surprised,” Edward said.
Amid the 26 floors, there are seven quiet floors, personal study cubicles and comfy chairs sprinkled throughout. On the second floor there are maps, history books are on 14th floor, while the 20th floor has books about education, philosophy, psychology and religion.
Floor 23 is claimed to have the most stunning views of campus, while many other students disagree.
“The 17th has the best view. It’s the most scenic quiet tranquil place,” social thought and political economy major Suhail Purkar said. “I think 23rd is overrated and too crowded.”
For Eileen Baah, the 21st floor is her favorite.
“The shelves of books keep me focused on work and it is the perfect view of campus,” she said.
Kana Ervin thinks the 26th floor has the best view because a student can see out to the valley and the mountains. When it comes to best view each student seemed to have a different opinion, but within these students some floors seemed to be more popular.
Floor 21 is admired by Baah and Singh. Singh loves reading the children’s books on that floor. Purkar and Edward like the Learning Resource Center and Baah enjoys the study areas on the 10th floor.
The student consensus of the most popular floor was the third because of its several Mac computers, four sound space rooms, two green screen rooms available for rent and 3D printing, the newest feature installed in early spring 2015.
Every floor on the library has its own unique space and many students may never find the perfect space that is right for them if they never explore. The size of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library can be intimidating but something students should view as an opportunity toward finding their most efficient study spot on campus.
Troy Kowalchuk can be reached at [email protected]