A beginner’s guide to the W. E. B. Du Bois Library 

I climbed all 23 floors, so you don’t have to!

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Collegian File Photo

By Olivia dePunte, Collegian Columnist

Having spent the last year studying outside of the University of Massachusetts, I am entering my sophomore year on campus with fresh eyes. While many of the buildings seemed foreign and a bit intimidating, scaling all 23 floors of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library sounded like the most daunting task. I decided to be methodical about it, not only did I complete the mission, but I took detailed notes, so you don’t have to!

To kick it off from the top, we have the best view on floor 23.  If you are looking for a scenic study spot, then snag a desk on this floor for panoramic views of the mountains and surrounding campus. A top floor desk is coveted, however, so feel free to go down to floor 21 or below if it’s full – I promise the view will be nearly as good. While you’re on floor 21, check out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle statues too! According to UMass Libraries on Twitter, the statues were “generously donated by co-creator Peter Laird ’76.” If you are a TMNT fan, or even slightly curious, it’s worth a look.

Going down, floors 20, 18, 17, 15, 14 and 11 are all open to students as quiet study spaces. There’s nothing much to report other than desks lining the windows amid rows of bookshelves. If you’re looking for some silence and solitude, these floors will be your best friend.

My personal favorite, floor nine, stands apart from the others in style and class. It’s home to a group study space with colorful red and orange semicircle partitions, a variety of modern furniture perfectly suited for a secluded, round-table feel for your study session. With its swanky, unique vibe, floor nine is undoubtedly where you can find me.

On floor eight, more desks and silence await you. Yet, if you venture to the sixth floor, you’ll find there’s more of an open concept with some large plush chairs and a central table. This floor is devoid of books since it houses the music archives instead.

While you’re at it, peek into floor five. On one side is the Graduate Commons – a safe space for graduate students and post-docs – and on the other are rows of desks built onto either side of a partition wall. Worth noting is each desk has its own lamp, the lamplight gives the room a soft, hushed quality as opposed to the harsh glare from fluorescent lighting on other floors. Floor two has the exact same layout but without a private area for graduate students.

Down in the lobby, take a break at the Procrastination Station, open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays. To fuel your studying, this Peoples Organic Coffee Cafe offers the best coffee and espresso around. I highly recommend treating yourself to an organic chai latte. Fresh salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries can also be found on the menu.

Below the lobby, explore the Learning Commons for a more noise-friendly study space. You can sprawl out on couches or huddle over big tables with your friends. If you want to study with a buddy, this is the best place to go. There is even a service desk, copier and printer all at the ready for you.

While you’re tromping about the library, make use of the West stairwell to see some beautiful student artwork. According to the Du Bois Library Mural Image Catalogue, “In 1986, an effort known as ‘Mass Transformation’ initiated by former Chancellor Joseph Duffy involved some 4,000 members of the campus community in renovating 23 floors of the University Library, now the W. E. B. Du Bois Library.” In an effort for beautification, UMass art students painted wall murals in between each floor of the cement staircase. Pictured were scenes of a paintbrush dripping paint, an iguana riding waves, the sun setting over the mountains and many more. Marveling at all the art was certainly my favorite part of roughing it up the 23 flights of stairs.

Whether you like to study in solitude or groups, enjoy some art or coffee or are a lover of literature at large, the W. E. B. Du Bois Library is the place for you! For more information, go to the library’s website here. Happy studying!

Olivia dePunte can be reached at [email protected]