Library floor rankings

Whether pushing the blue handicapped button or pulling open the unusually heavy glass door, everyone entering the lobby of Hunt Library is thinking the same thing: ‘Which floor?’ Maybe you have a meeting on a specific floor, maybe there’s a designated spot where you’re meeting your friends, or maybe you just want a white-chocolate macadamia nut cookie from Maggie Murph Café. Nevertheless, all Carnegie Mellon students must eventually face this decision — many on a daily basis.

So, which floor do you go to? Each floor has its own strengths and weaknesses; sometimes, you might even choose an inferior floor because it suits your needs. But though each has its merits, the proper ranking of all the floors is not subjective. Some floors are intrinsically better than others. So follow the rankings below, and the only tough question you’ll have to ask yourself is whether that macadamia nut cookie is worth the calories.

1. The Fourth Floor

If you don’t mind the tiresome walk up the four flights of steps — you’ll be winded — the fourth floor is definitely worth the trip. To start, it’s the prettiest of all the floors. Open the door, and you are instantly struck by the elegant wooden exterior of the Fine & Rare Book Room, Mark Rothko’s abstract painting “Green, Red, on Orange” on the wall, and the cushioned chairs of warm and bright colors. The layout is spacious yet cozy, in a style different from all the other floors.

But the fourth floor is more than just eye candy; it combines the best attributes of the second and third floors: Individual desks offer the quietness of the third floor without the stuffiness, while larger tables offer the gregariousness of the second floor without the noise. In the past, the fourth floor was lacking in electrical outlets, but some new ones have been installed, primarily along the front windows — so bring your laptop and enjoy the view.

2. The Third Floor

Given the rigorous academic climate of Carnegie Mellon, one cannot take a truly quiet study space for granted. And the third floor offers just that, over and over again — it is never not quiet. It is this consistency that gives the third floor such a high ranking. The stringent atmosphere can get annoying, but that’s the price you pay for such reliable silence.

3. The First Floor

The couches that you see when you first enter the library are indicative of the first floor in general. They look like they’d be really comfortable — like the way the couches in Starbucks are always comfortable — but when you actually sit on them, they are firm and oddly shaped. Overall, the couches are lacking, kind of like the first floor. The floor is nice because it has the café and enough computers to go around. The bustling atmosphere is also appealing, but if you’re really trying to get work done, the first floor is pretty useless.

4. The Basement

The basement feels like a basement. The bathrooms — especially the women’s — are consistently less clean than the average bathrooms on campus. The new study rooms are nice, though they cannot accommodate many students at once. The library uses the basement for all of its leftover stuff. And nothing is more fustrating than trying to use those weird Linux computers and failing completely.

5. The Second Floor

The second floor is unquestionably the worst floor. Every night, large groups of people gather around the tables, talking loudly and laughing obnoxiously. The one secluded table, off to the right between two bookshelves, is almost always occupied. Finally, since the majority of the tables are in the center aisle and thus far away from the walls, most students struggle to find outlets. It’s just a bad floor.