Columbia University, Teachers College, and Barnard College students have access to over nineteen libraries across campus. Each library on campus may be geared toward a specific field, but opens its doors to students from other programs. Butler’s grandeur has long drawn many students from many schools within the university. The Science and Engineering Libraries’ extensive hours are appealing to the late-night studier. The Law Libraries’ intimidating, but large collection, has always provided students with the most current information in the field. Students of Columbia and its affiliate colleges are some of the luckiest in the world to have all these libraries encompassed in the university’s 36-acre campus. With all these individually unique libraries, it takes something special to really stand out, and the Gottesman Libraries of Teachers College has that something special.
Our website boasts of a reputation as one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive research libraries in education. The Library’s most used spaces comprise three floors, all of which students have access to. Within these floors patrons can find a plethora of exclusive and distinctive features. The architectural makeup is just one example of how the Gottesman Libraries is a standout amongst Columbia Libraries. The first floor of the library is “one-shop” fits all floor. Students can print, study, check out books, speak with a librarian, and even get a workout. Standing printer-computers, allowing students to print-and-go, are housed on the first floor. For those looking to sit and study, mirrored computer stations are well appointed across the first floor, as well as in three meeting rooms that can be booked via reservation. Several treadmills at the back of the floor are just one of the many best-kept secrets that students visiting the library for the first time are surprised and elated to see. Patrons can read or work on their paper while working out!
The whole second floor is maybe not the best-kept secret, but a secret, nonetheless. The floor is a collaborative space. An Australian architect built a series of interlocking desks just for Teachers College to promote the spirit of collaboration. Students can feel free to work together in this space without having to worry about being too loud. In addition to this amazing collaboration space, a small, but largely beneficial, relaxation space can be found. With comfortable pillows and open floor space, students can take a minute to simply sit down and de-stress. Although not necessarily encouraged, a student or two has been found asleep in amongst the mountain of soft, but rock-like pillows. Students from all over campus come to use the space on the second floor of the Gottesman Libraries for group work and group study sessions.
The third floor of the library is the more traditional floor -- how one typically views a library: the quiet floor. Students are expected to adhere to the floor guidelines of creating a quiet and studious space for all. Like the second floor, however, a collaborative nature is still found, for the third floor is home to eight meeting rooms. Students love to use these meeting rooms for a variety of purposes, such as job interviews, phone calls, PhD prep, and more. The monthly art gallery exhibits are a welcome secret found on the third floor. Original exhibits are done by members of the Teachers College community, or else showcase the Library’s historical art collections.
Having worked in the library for about a year now, students will often come to the desk to speak with us about the library -- both their likes and dislikes. This article was written based on the feedback I have gotten during this one-year period in which patrons have told me what has surprised them most when coming into the library. Those who come in briefly just to print are often surprised by the treadmills on the first floor and have exclaimed multiple times, “I had no idea you had treadmills here in the library”. Statements like these allow me to realize what wonderful secrets are kept within the Gottesman Libraries. As much as I have been asked about treadmills, or the “nap” corner on the second floor, the best-kept secret of the library seems to remain our food policy. Students can eat and drink whatever they like, wherever they like, in the library. It is highly amusing for my colleagues and me to inform students they can eat anything they would like in the library when we are asked about food policy, only to shortly after see a Door Dash delivery person with a full three course meal!
All nineteen libraries at Columbia University are unique and have their own share of secrets. Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College is not only a remarkable library, but its secrets found within make it no doubt a must see to all students.