Overrated/Underrated: Libraries Edition

All libraries are not created equal

Anna Stephenson

Simon Lock

Cambridge libraries can be intimidating places. They are sources of knowledge, endless fines, and equally endless despair at still not getting a Crushbridge despite sitting there for five hours with freshly done nails and your best ‘smart but approachable’ fake thinking face.

Similar as they may seem to those like me who barely glance at the shelves, all libraries are not created equal. Here is Violet’s guide to the overlooked, the overly-hyped (if a library can ever be described as ‘hyped’) and everything in between.

Underrated: Newnham Library

The grounds are open to all, and the Iris Cafe has been infiltrated by the booth-hogging ‘cafe boys’. But in the sanctuary of the library, outsider men must be signed in and chaperoned at designated times – this may be a faff, but makes it an underrated space for true peace free from manspreading.

Overrated: Law Library

If you get in early enough to nab a good spot, you can get views of King’s College chapel, and what with all the glass, working here in the rain is a visual treat. Yet it feels like the soulless open-plan office you’ll inevitably end up working in, and it’s law, so the associations with the outside world and a ‘career’ just get too real. When you leave, you’ll find five random aspiring corporate lawyers have added you on LinkedIn.

Underrated: AMES Library

So many plants! Plenty of greenery to add moisture back to your dry winter skin should be a requirement of any self-respecting study space.

Overrated: UL

Love it or hate it, the UL has a fearsome reputation. From the lockers for which you can never remember the code, to the dark and endlessly confusing bookshelves (does anyone really need that many?), the UL is an experience all Cambridge students should endure exactly once, and then do their best to never repeat.


Mountain View

I will survive (the cursed single bed hangover)

Underrated: St Edmund’s Library

With floor-to-ceiling windows and views over Cambridge, St Edmund’s Library is a great study spot that has the advantage of being a bit under the radar. It also has that all-important spiral staircase for waltzing up and down like you’re in an interiors magazine when you’re actually just bored and pretending to look for another book you won’t ever read.