The Treasures of Yale: Studying in Sterling

This year, 4,310 high school students chose to apply early to Yale.

Fatigue, despair, and excruciating pain: all clues point in the direction of midterm season. Or Valentine’s Day, depending on your circumstances. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with your love life, but I do have something even better: studying tips!

But seriously, one of the most exciting parts of entering Sterling Memorial Library lies in that split-second decision of choosing your study room. The following are some pointers on where to go on the first floor:

Starr Reference Room: The long room with the grand windows is a classic and gorgeous when light streams in at midday. The only downside is the perpetual rumble of ventilation, and as I always say, you can’t study in Starr forever. That’s where the alternative scene comes into play.

The Music Library: I find trying it distracting to decide whether the Music Library’s main room reminds me most of a courtyard, a library or an airport terminal. Nevertheless, the high-ceiling-ed room (which was an outdoor courtyard until 1998) is perfect for those who like a brighter, more open and more modern feel than a lot of Yale provides. Downstairs, personal carrels with wheeled chairs are promising, but I realized that they’re literally personal (as in, assigned to specific people) after rolling around on the chairs for a few minutes. The Music Library’s shorter hours can also be frustrating.

The Newspaper Reading Room: This is where I go to really get work done. The fact there are no longer any newspapers on the shelves makes it less eye-catching, so it’s rarely crowded. It’s comfortable with its darker lighting and an emerald and gold color scheme, but not too comfortable for getting down to business.

The Linonia & Brothers Room: I adore this place. The green carpet and upholstery combine with dark paneling to give it a real cigars-and-billiards feel. Writing this makes me question why I like it, since neither cigars nor billiards are my forte, but trust me on this one. The best spots (the alcoves on the left side of the room) are highly coveted, but the room is bookish and relaxing in general, so you can’t go wrong. However, it is dark, so it’s not a great choice for those prone to falling asleep.

The Franke Periodical Reading Room: An immediate left upon entrance into Sterling, this room always has more occupants than I expect. It’s very bright and features small tables and comfortable chairs. Various publications are available on its shelves, many in foreign languages. I’ve also noticed signs of regulars here. They don’t seem territorial, but exercise caution.

This in no way captures the glory of Sterling; the International Room, the Stacks, and reading rooms (check out the East Asia Reading Room!) are all fantastic as well. With so many academic sorrows this time of year, a lengthy session of procrastination penitence in the library might be the perfect remedy for mid-semester melancholy. But in all seriousness, procrastinating by simply looking around Sterling might work even better.

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