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Avery Library: Everything a Study Space Should Be

Before coming to SIPA, when I thought of the Ivy League I would immediately picture immense, neoclassical and gothic style buildings, foreboding structures made to resemble the campuses of Oxford and Cambridge. This style has always been appealing to me; something about the brick buildings and carved names of famous alumni and scholars is particularly conducive to studying, reminding you of how little you know and how much farther you have to go.

When you first step foot on campus, your eyes are immediately drawn to Butler and Low Libraries that sit on the edges of main campus like two enormous bookends. They’re pretty to look at it and they entirely live up to one’s expectations about what an Ivy library is supposed to be. However, if you take the steps up by Low and round the corner, you’ll pass by a hundred year old chapel, its humble Byzantine stylings immediately drawing you in towards the altar. A little ways more down the footpath and you’ll pass by an unassuming brick building that happens to be Avery Library, the largest architectural library in the world.

Whenever I am doing readings or looking for inspiration, I’ll try and find a seat at Avery. It’s often hard as there are a limited number of seats and the library enforces a strict no coffee or tea rule that sometimes discourages me from going. But every time I do happen to find a space I am reminded of why I love studying there. First of all, the library is essentially one large narrow hall. Long tables line the middle of the hall, while the walls are full of books up to two stories high. Great big windows along the entire building provide plenty of natural light and a view of the campus. For this reason, Avery strikes a perfect balance in terms of ambiance; it’s warm and inviting, without the stuffy feeling that other old libraries tend to have.

The winter only accentuates all of Avery’s best features, as the large windows give you a view of the snow outside, while the wood interior makes you feel like you’re at home in your study. During the cold season, I’ll often step outside and walk around the corner to the chapel, just to unwind and destress for a few moments. Then I’ll walk back, feeling refreshed and ready to dive back into my work.

On top of all of its natural charm, the basement of the library also has a nice cafe that offers food and a full range of beverages. The seating is cafeteria style and it is almost always buzzing with people. The library also hosts one of the world’s leading architectural art collections, with over two million drawings, sketches, photographs, and other historical artifacts related to the field of design and architecture. Sometimes I’ll catch an event at the library as well, since it regularly hosts visiting exhibitions and relevant speaker series events.

Whether you decide to go to Avery to study or just to grab coffee, it is always a welcome respite from the busyness of everyday life. If you decide to visit Columbia, take an opportunity to step inside and envision yourself here!

Note from Admissions: SIPA’s expert faculty and theory-meets-practice curriculum is part of what sets our programs apart. Register for Spring 2019 SIPA class visits here and experience it for yourself.

Meet Columbia’s Libraries

The Meet Columbia series aims to expose prospective SIPA students to the larger university-wide experience offered at Columbia. In this post, we explore four of Columbia’s libraries on the Morningside Heights campus. 

It’s Midterm season, and you haven’t started your Conceptual Foundations or Politics of Policymaking papers?! Perhaps buckling down in one of the 21 libraries at Columbia or its affiliates would help! But which one? If you’re looking for a change to your usual study space, here’s a quick run-down of four of the most popular libraries on campus.

The Herman H. Lehman Social Sciences Library

Third Floor of the International Affairs Building (420 W. 118 St.)

Lehman Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo caption: Lehman Library sits below “the Fishbowl” of the International Affairs Building, the hub of the SIPA Community.

What you need to know: Lehman caters to the Departments of Anthropology, Political Science, and Sociology. It is also the “in-house” library for the School of International and Public Affairs.

What you should know: The library’s three Group Study spaces are wildly popular for students coordinating group assignments, TAs conducting office hours, and informal club meetings. Lehman also hosts a large computer lab, recitation rooms, presentation practice rooms, and scanning services.

What you didn’t know: Lehman houses an extensive map collection that began in 1912. Between over 200,000 geological, topographical, political, nautical, and aeronautical maps, you can find yourself lost in a room full of maps.

Butler Library

South Lawn (535 W. 114 St.)

Butler Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo caption: Butler 301, colloquially known as the Ref room, is home to soaring chandeliers and hard-working students. This room is one of many that remains open for 24 hours during the academic year.

What you need to know: Butler is Columbia’s largest library, containing over two million volumes works related to the humanities, religion, philosophy, and literature, as well as a large collection of government documents. It originally opened as South Hall in 1934, replacing Low Library as the school’s main library. Fun Fact: Staff used a giant slide to transport books from Low.

What you should know: Butler is the library that never sleeps, staying open for 24 hours during the academic year. There will be students working during all parts of the night. There are study carrels and offices reserved for graduate students on the library’s upper floors, with most students preferring to work in the reading rooms, large reference rooms, or the stacks. The entrance level has a Blue Java Cafe, a popular meeting spot for group projects. Should you need a break from Lehman, many group study rooms are available upon prior reservation.

What you didn’t know: The sixth floor is home to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, a massive collection of primary sources spanning more than 4,000 years of history. You can pay them a visit in their museum-style space featuring rotating exhibitions, and Columbia students are given access to documents for research purposes.

C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Third Floor of Kent Hall (1140 Amsterdam Ave.)

Starr Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo caption: The stained-glass window of Justice recalls the space’s former use as the Law School Library. Today, Starr is dedicated to Columbia’s East Asian studies.

What you need to know: Starr is home to one of the largest East Asian collections in the country, housing materials in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to Tibetan, Mongol, and Manchu. The collection houses books, films, and many cultural artifacts from East Asia. Special search terminals in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean help students find electronic resources in these languages.

What you should know: Starr is known for its elongated study tables that run along the library’s length, as Starr was modeled after the library at Trinity College at Cambridge. Furthermore, the entrance level of Starr showcases many artifacts from East Asia including a large, gilded Buddhist statue of the Bodhisattva Jizo-sama.

What you didn’t know: The east-facing stained glass window depicts Justice, a remnant of the old Law School library that occupied the space previously. The window depicts the seal of Columbia University and the coats of arms of the thirteen original U.S. colonies.

Science & Engineering Library

Fourth Floor of Northwest Corner Building (550 W. 120th St.)

Science & Engineering Library

Photo caption: The Science and Engineering (S&E) Library is Columbia’s newest library. Nestled inside Northwest Corner Building, the space maintains a modern aesthetic, a stark difference from Columbia’s older design traditions.

What you need to know: The Science and Engineering Library is Columbia’s newest library, opening in 2011. It supports research in the fields of chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, psychology, and interdisciplinary works.

What you should know: The library houses the Digital Science Center, making its computers some of the most powerful and comprehensive on campus. There are more than fifty advanced workstations, all outfitted with course-related software (read: SPSS and Stata), and can be used at individual or group carrels. There are also group study spaces and presentation practice rooms available upon reservation. Additionally, Joe’s Coffee downstairs can satisfy your food or coffee fix.
What you didn’t know: Ever wanted to design something? Anything? Columbia offers free 3D printing! If you can design it, you can print it! No worries if you never had experience with 3D design. Columbia Libraries offer tutorials and beginner resources to help you start your project.

Which library is your favorite? Is there anything you want to know about student life at Columbia? Curious about any history, traditions, or folklore on campus? Comment below, and we’ll write about it in our next blog post.

 

VISIT SIPA AND EAT WELL ON A BUDGET!

food

It is highly recommended to visit the programs that you’re interested in applying to. When I was applying, I took  two weeks off of work and visited eight MPA programs. While I researched these programs, I instinctively ranked them in my mind from the one that I wanted to attend the most to the least. Surprisingly, after visiting the programs, my ranking of programs changed drastically! Programs on the top of my list were crossed off entirely, while schools I were on the fence,  jumped up high on the list. Factors for the rearrangement of my list include; approachability of professors, friendliness of students, sitting in on classes, as well as the ambiance of the city where the school was located.

In regards to SIPA, it was the one school that did not shift position. It was on the top of my list and remained there after my visit. The professors took the time out of their schedules to meet with me, the students took me out for some drinks at the end of the day and offered me candid answers to my questions, the classes were extremely stimulating, and New York City is amazing!

That being said, visit SIPA! See if it is a good fit, as well as NYC. While here explore the City. It can be quite daunting if you don’t know where to start. One of my passions before coming to SIPA was splurging on food. My desire for quality food has not diminished, although my wallet has since I am now a full time student. So, I have created a list of AMAZING restaurants to try when you’re here, while on a graduate student budget. This is clutch. These restaurants are scattered throughout Manhattan which will allow you to explore your new home if you decide to enroll. Good luck on your application and bon appetit!

restaurants 

 

September 23, 2014: Happy first day of autumn!

A wonderful way to learn more about the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and its programs is by attending an information session. We offer in-person visits for those of you that will be in the New York area, as well as virtual sessions online. We invite you to get to know us this fall!

For in-person information sessions, reservations are required so if you would like to attend, please let us know which date you would like to visit and we will reserve a space for you. Please call our office at 212-854-6216 or email us at sipa_admission@columbia.edu to make your reservation.

For in-person information session dates this fall, please click here.

Our fall virtual information sessions will be held on the following dates:

  • Thursday, October 2nd: 11:00am-12:00pm
  • Wednesday, October 15th: 9:30am-10:30am
  • Tuesday, October 28th: 11:00am-12:00pm
  • Thursday, November 20th: 12:00pm-1:00pm
  • Tuesday, December 2nd: 12:00pm-1:00pm
  • Wednesday, December 17th: 10:00 am-11:00am

You are also welcome to come and stop by the office Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding holidays, to meet with an Admissions counselor and discuss SIPA’s curriculum, application process, and any questions that you may have for us.

Directions and travel information to our office may be found on the SIPA page.

We look forward to meeting you!

The beauty of Columbia in the fallPhoto courtesy of the Morningside Post (http://www.themorningsidepost.com/2010/11/18/columbia-in-the-fall/)

Photo courtesy of the Morningside Post

 

You’re on a budget but want to eat… out.

Many friends and family are traveling to New York this week to celebrate their loved ones’ proud moment as they walk on stage to pick up their hard-earned diplomas.  While some will be heading to fancy restaurants around town, others will be introduced to a few good eats around the Columbia University campus that are affordable too.

We have compiled a list of restaurants around campus that are budget friendly for graduate students…. because whether you’re leaving or coming, who doesn’t want reliable suggestions on places to eat.  Here are our top restaurants/delis near campus on a budget. Enjoy the Good Eats!

1. Hamilton Deli (116th/Amsterdam)
o Lewinsky Sandwich – $6.95

2. Milano’s (112th/Broadway)
o Chicken Parmesan Sandwich – $9.50

3. Taqueria La Fonda (107th/Amsterdam)
o Big Chicken Burrito – $8.00

4.  Pour House (109th/Amsterdam)
o Lunch Burger Special – $6.00
o *Make sure to fill out the survey when you pay!

5. Amigos (112th/Broadway)
o Monday Taco Madness: Unlimited Tacos & Sangria – $20.00
o Crazy Quesadilla Tuesday: Unlimited Quesadilla & Margaritas – $20.00

6. The Heights (111th/Broadway)
o Happy Hour Specials: Vegetable Quesadillas – $8.00, Wings – $8.00

7. Thai Market (107th/Amsterdam)
o Lunch Specials – $8.00 (12pm – 3:00 Daily)

8.  Falafel Kart! (115th/Broadway)
o Chicken over Rice – $5.00 (CASH ONLY!)

9. Ajanta (121st/Amsterdam)
o Indian Lunch Specials
o Lamb Curry with Rice – $6.95

10. Koronet (110th/Broadway)
o HUGE Slice of Pizza – $3.95

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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