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Top 10 Schools for Bookworms

Kick off your shoes after a long day of classes and take off to another world. If you’re anything like me, relaxing includes a good book, a warm cup of tea and a quiet place to let my imagination run wild. Although I may sound like an 80-year-old, how can you argue with the appeal of a gorgeous library with everything from rare manuscripts and special book collections to secluded study rooms with comfy chairs and beanbags? If this sounds like more fun than getting #turnt at yet another random frat party, then get to one of these 10 schools ASAP.

10. Brigham Young University

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If you can’t walk 100 miles, good luck reading almost 100 miles. Brigham Young University houses the impressive Harold B. Lee Library, which not only has around 98 miles of shelving for their six million volumes, but also has enough room to seat 4,600 people. What, might you ask, will all these people do with their time in the library? Well, they can explore collections such as Mormonism, Utah and the West, World History and Culture, Photographs, Arts and Communications, Music and BYU History. On top of that, the library actually received national attention as the backdrop for a parody of an Old Spice commercial. Did you also know that the exterior is completely clear, so whoever is looking in can see all the patrons inside? Sounds like a pretty cool take on the traditional mahogany library.

9. University of California, San Diego

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If you don’t know what the Geisel Library looks like, do you even go to UC-San Diego? The eight story geometric, concrete building provides access to over seven million volumes and multimedia materials to their students and the public. “I think it's a spaceship on the outside, but all the real high tech and up and coming collaborative spaces are located in its basement,” sophomore Seerat Sekhon said. “The library has the lower two floors dedicated to group study and I believe that's where most students have built part of their UCSD community. That space is split 50-50 hard work and socialization/procrastination.” Author Angela Davis, novelist Kim Robinson and Journalist Cara Capuano all attended UCSD, inspiring many aspiring writer to read until they become respected writers.

8. University of Washington

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University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library holds over 2 million print volumes and has more than 350,000 square feet of accessible space for students and faculty. They have super cool rare book collections such as Historical Children's Literature Collection, Authors Collection and a 19th Century American Literature Collection. If you crave a quiet place to get work done while channeling your inner Hermione, the Harry Potter Reading Room sounds like the perfect go-to study spot. “Suzallo’s Harry Potter room is always silent and really pretty. It’s a super calm place to study and the atmosphere makes me work harder because everyone else is,” sophomore Sara Becker-Mayer said. You’ll graduate ready to take on the world of children’s literature after graduation from the school that taught author Beverly Clearly.

7. North Carolina State University

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North Carolina State University brags about the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, a massive 221,000 gross square feet and 88 foot tall building. Students get beautiful views of Lake Raleigh and the city skyline from here and best of all have access to over 22,000 linear feet of original materials. The library is incredibly modern with colorful carpet, couches and chairs for students, in addition to its crystal clear windows that surround the entire building. Journalist John Tesh and author Wes Jackson both attended the university with access to topics of materials such as plant and crop sciences, forestry and environmental sciences, computer simulation and the history of computing.

6. University of Michigan

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Imagine studying in this glorified museum. University of Michigan’s Cook Legal Research Library was originally designed to hold 350,000 books, but needed an expansion in the early 1950s. It holds numerous study rooms and opportunities to explore the university’s rare book collection, which actually doubles as one of the first rare book rooms created in the country. “The library, and the law quad in general is stunningly gorgeous,” freshman Emma Fulweiler said. Majors such as classical languages and literatures, comparative literature and creative writing and literature are all available to students. Who knows, you may even become the next playwright Arthur Miller or poet Robert Hayden, both UM alums.

5. Cornell University

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At Cornell, you’ll actually want to do book research for your next paper instead of Googling everything. Cornell University’s oldest library, the Uris Library holds 171,683 print volumes and was designed by the University’s first architecture student, William Henry Miller. The library features awesome collections such as human sexuality, the history of science, the history of hip-hop and more. The library’s aesthetic is on point with tons of natural lighting coming from some of the 29 windows and 20 clerestory windows in the building. You’ll also see beautiful stacks of books everywhere you look. Talk about practical and cool.

4. Loyola University Chicago

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Interested in minimizing your Carbon footprint while you read? The Klarchek Information Commons overlooks Lake Michigan and is considered a green building by the Green Building Rating System. The library features a roof that absorbs rainwater and channels some of the runoff into Lake Michigan, sophisticated sensors that control temperature and recycled carpet tiles. You’ll find the school’s rare books in the Cudahy Library in the Archives and Special Collections department and the collection includes text on philosophy, religion, history, geography, language and literature. Award-winning author, essayist and poet Sandra Cisneros graduated from the university in 1976.  If you’re looking for inspiration, stop by Klarchek’s Information Commons when your next paper is due.

3. John Hopkins University

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Turn back time at John Hopkins’ George Peabody Library and the Eisenhower library of rare books. This building has over 300,000 volumes and a vast array of historic materials including medieval and Renaissance manuscript books in addition to the Machen collection of books that were printed before 1501. The library itself looks gorgeous, with huge skylights and classical embellishments, perfect for both beautiful Instagram pics and buckling down to finish your 30-page history reading. Freshman Avery Burrell said, “The architecture in Peabody is beautiful. When I first walked in I was so overwhelmed, I just stood in awe for a solid minute.” Famous alumni include Russell Baker (Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist for The New York Times and former host of PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre), novelist John Barth and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Caryle Murphy.

2. University of Chicago

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Tired of running out of books to read? That won’t happen at UChicago. The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library holds close to 3.5 million books. You might recognize their library for their huge glass dome ceiling, which makes it incredibly cool to look at from afar and even cooler to explore inside. This library inspired alumni like Pulitzer Prize winners Katharine Graham and Studs Terkel. The library’s rare book collection has almost 300,000 volumes with dates from as early as the 15th century all the way to the 21st. UC also offers a comparative literature and creating writing major. So if the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library sound like a place you chill in, consider majoring in one of these bookish studies. Plus, the library offers comfortable seating for 180 people under the library’s beautiful glass dome.

1. Yale University


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Created in 1963, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library doubles as a rare book connoisseur’s dream. It holds 180,000 volumes and manuscripts and another million volumes underground. When you first walk into this largely marble library, you’ll see two large staircases, and of course, endless shelves of books. “I remember from the one time I went in before the construction that it had a pretty incredible number of rare books, including a Gutenberg bible and one of James Audubon’s original folios,” junior Holden Leslie-Bole said. Ever wanted to see first editions in person? You’ll want to visit this library. Beyond their incredible collection of books, Yale offers majors like East Asian languages and literatures and offers book collection topics ranging from American literature to German literature and a Collection of Western Americana. Your inner Rory Gilmore will feel right at home here in more ways than one.

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