Embrace the quiet

A guide to popular study spots on campus

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The Maps and Atlases area in the Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning is a lesser known study area on campus which features study tables and ready access to many geography resources.
Maha Shady
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The second floor of Lewis Music Library features a number of recording/arranging stations as well as group study rooms. The first floor houses study tables and MIT’s extensive collection of scores.
Maha Shady

It’s no secret that freshmen starting at MIT tend to be most worried about academic challenges. They have nightmares about the horror of p-sets and wonder how effectively they can study as they adjust to their new environment.

It might be a bit reassuring to those nerve-wracked freshmen to know about all the available places for them to study with others or just work on their own. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular study spaces on campus.


Located on the east side of campus in Building E53, Dewey has 12 group-study rooms, each of which has a whiteboard and a projector that can connect to laptops. These rooms can be reserved online up to 30 days in advance or on the spot using the screen outside each room.

In addition to its regular hours, Dewey has a quiet study area with restrooms that can be accessed 24/7 with MIT student IDs, said Carol A. Schweigert, an access services assistant at Dewey. The downstairs area with nice desk chairs is not noticed much, continued Schweigert, so it tends to be extremely quiet.

Dewey tends to attract more graduate students than undergraduates, said Schweigert, so it might not be a good place to run into people in undergraduate classes unless you plan ahead.


Though conveniently located in Building 10 and a favorite of many of the upperclassmen The Tech asked, the Barker reading room in the dome is undergoing construction until January 2013, so it will not be an ideal place to study during the fall semester. However, most areas of Barker will be open for students during the fall if they want to visit the library.

Prior to the Barker construction, Oluwatobi “Tobi” Lanre-Amos ’15 went to the Barker study space whenever she wanted complete silence because she felt that if she dropped a pin in there, “everyone would look up”. Barker is Charlotte Zhu ’15’s favorite place to study, and although Patricia A. Hagen ’11 didn’t study in libraries often, when she did, she studied at Barker.

After the construction is completed, Barker, like Dewey, will have 24/7 areas that students can access with their MIT IDs, according to User Experience Librarian Stephanie L. Hartman.

The Library does not have much natural light, said Hartman, which some people might not like; however, it is well-lit artificially. Additionally, the reading room is usually a very quiet place to study, though it is currently unusable.


Located in Building 14, Hayden is the second most popular study spot among undergraduates, right after Barker, according to Hartman.

With huge windows and couches facing Boston and the Charles river, Hayden has plenty of natural light, and its Science area has closed group study spaces with blackboards and huge desks.

Hannarae A. Nam ’15 likes to use the 24-hour study space in Hayden, open with MIT ID access. Lanre-Amos said that she often studies on the second floor.


Rotch Library in Building 7 is the closest library to the west side of campus. If you need geography information, Rotch is the place to go since it has a number of maps and atlases. Those who visit the library frequently can rent a locker for a $10 deposit.

Zhu, who usually studies in Barker, intends to move her studying into Rotch this fall semester because of the construction at Barker.


Just a stone’s throw from Hayden is Lewis, where, in addition to studying, students can arrange and record music using library equipment.

Drinks and snacks are allowed in Dewey, Barker, Hayden, and Rotch, but the librarians ask that there be no big meals or greasy or smelly food. However, only water is allowed in Lewis, according to Ian S. Osborn ’14, a student librarian there.

There is also a piano and a keyboard, and students can check out headphones and play anytime when the library’s open, said Osborn. Of course, the music library has shelves full of music scores that students can photocopy and take home.

Although it seems like a great place for music majors, Osborn believes that most students who work in Lewis are not music majors.


The height of business during the semester is the fifth floor of the student center, where there is an Athena cluster, a reading room, and group study rooms with screens and whiteboards.

However, some students are turned off by the rumors of the smell that takes over the place, especially during finals week. Hartman hears that students prefer not to go there during exams, claiming that nervous undergrads “give up hygiene.” The space gets crowded and “smells like BO,” said Amos.


The places mentioned above are some of the most popular study spots on campus, but many students like to make their own discoveries and use alternative places.

Hagen mainly used the chemistry lounge and the living rooms at McCormick, and other students enjoying studying in empty classrooms, like the ones in Buildings 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8.

Whether your dorm is noisy, your roommate is noisy, or you just want other places to study, there are plenty of known study spots and places waiting to be discovered. Don’t commit yourself to one place too soon — take the time to explore different places until you find the one that fits your needs!