Sunday, November 30, 2008

Study Space: An Insider's Guide

As the fall semester draws to a close, study space is at a premium in the Goodson Law Library! Here is a travel guide to the best places to study in the library, both well-known and off the beaten path.


1st Place: Private study rooms (Level 2): If the sign-up sheet at the Circulation Desk is any indication, our top pick for group study is no secret to the Duke Law community. Our eight private study rooms on Level 2 are already immensely popular with groups (FYI, individuals are allowed to sign up as well). You may reserve a four-hour block of time in one of the eight study rooms up to 24 hours in advance.

2nd Place: The Reading Room (Level 3): It might be hard to believe now, but prior to the Law School’s renovation, the Reading Room was constantly abuzz with conversation. Library policy always permitted talking in the Reading Room and Level 4, while Levels 2 and 1 were designated as official quiet study spaces. Although you can occasionally hear a pin drop in the new Reading Room, this policy still stands (of course, consideration for your colleagues’ noise level is always appreciated). Round tables near the window wall and behind the center staircase offer a bit more seclusion than the large tables in the middle of the room.

3rd Place: The mezzanine tables (Level 4): Your study group might start speaking in hushed tones, as the acoustics on Level 4 tend to carry voices a good distance. But when the study rooms are packed and the Reading Room is full, the tables along the north and south sides of the Level 4 mezzanine are an acceptable-- if not exactly private-- substitute.

Honorable mention: The Fite Room (Level 2): When not being used for instruction, the John D. Fite Computer Instruction Room is open on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Pros: Fits more people than the private study rooms; has more built-in technology (if you can figure out how to operate it).
  • Cons: Unlike the private study rooms, there are no blinds for the fishbowl-like window; just like any other Law School classroom, you run the risk of being ousted for more “official” use of the room.

1st Place: The subject alcoves (Levels 2 and 3): The Goodson Law Library’s best-kept study secrets are the subject-specific alcoves on Levels 2 (the Clarence W. Walker North Carolina Alcove and the Dean Pamela B. Gann Tax Alcove) and 3 (William F. Stevens Federal Alcove and the George C. Christie Jurisprudence Collection). Tucked away in the corners along the window wall, the alcoves offer a secluded spot for quiet study—although you might occasionally be interrupted by a cite-checker or library staff.

2nd Place: Level 1: The library staff wants everyone to know that Level 1 reopened in November—but you might want us to keep that fact under wraps. Not far from the back elevator and staircase are more than 60 study carrels and a handful of tables, as well as a delightfully retro bar-style seating area near the shelves.

3rd Place: New study carrels (Level 2): Current 3Ls will recall the pre-renovation Level 2 as, shall we say, a somewhat drearier place. The renovation involved the creation of brand-new windows on Level 2, which are accented by beautiful new study carrels. If you need to take occasional study breaks in order to gaze longingly at the outside world, this is the spot for you.

Honorable mention: Soft seating (Level 4): Who doesn’t love to read in a comfy chair? The leather club seats along the window wall on Level 4 are a pleasant place to review notes or proofread writing assignments. Hint: bring earplugs or an iPod to avoid distractions from the Reading Room below.

Did our rankings miss the mark? Critique our picks and share your top-ranked places to study in the comments.