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

Columbia University’s campus is chock full of places to study, ranging from beautiful libraries to small study nooks. In addition to the libraries listed here, below are some favorites.

Burke Library – Union Theological Seminary

Located at Union Theological Seminary on 3041 Broadway

The Burke Library.

What you need to know: Burke Library is housed in Union Theological Seminary  and is a seven minute walk from SIPA. The library is a rare combination of being one of the most elegant, and least crowded, libraries on campus. It’s extremely quiet and perfect if you need to focus (or take a nap!). When the weather is nice, you can find fellow students studying in the Seminary’s interior courtyard.

What you didn’t know: Burke Library has over 700,000 items and houses multiple special collections, including: the Bonhoeffer Collection, the Gillett Collection of American History and Theology, the Missionary Research Collection, the Sacred Music Collection.

Low Memorial Library

Located at the Heart of Campus, right next to “Alma Mater”

The Low Memorial Library – Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz on Flickr.

What you need to know: Low Library was completed in 1897 and served as Columbia’s main library until the early 1930s. Although its library days are over, Low plays an important role on campus. The rotunda is used to host a variety of ceremonies and events, ranging from the Pulitzer Prize award ceremony to a study break area for students during finals. The building houses both the offices of Columbia’s President and Provost.

What you didn’t know: Structured after the Pantheon, some have claimed that Low Memorial Library’s dome is the largest freestanding granite dome in the United States.


Thomas J. Watson Library of Business and Economics

Located at Columbia Business School in Uris Hall on 3022 Broadway

The Thomas J. Watson Library of Business and Economics.

What you need to know: Nestled in Columbia’s business school, the Thomas J. Watson Library of Business and Economics is an excellent study spot, particularly for SIPA students interested in resources related to finance and management. The library boasts over 400,000 books and approximately 1,000 journal titles related to business and finance, among many other business-related topics.

What you didn’t know: Watson Library has a variety of collections (particularly if you’re interested in financial or economic history!).  These include disclosure microfiche that contain annual Reports to Stockholders, 10Ks, Prospectuses and Proxies for NYSE and ASE companies ranging back from 1969 to 1994. There are also historical corporate annual reports, many of which predate the 1934 Securities Exchange Act.


Tell us: 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.