On my first visit to UVA, I remember being taken on a tour of the three main libraries on grounds (not campus!): Clemons, Alderman, and Clark. On the visit to Clemons, the group was inducted into the leveled culture. You enter in to the fourth floor, a place of group work and no commitment to lowered voices. Next, you make your way down the stairs, each level with its own distinct culture, until you finally reach the silent first floor. So silent, that our tour guy warned us we should take off our shoes if we were wearing flip-flops. Next door, we were taken to see Alderman, with its many study rooms and the not-suitable-for-just-anyone STACKS! A mere seven-minute walk from there into central grounds you find yourself at Clark, more often filled with students from the sciences.
However, what the guide did not tell our group was that finding a perfect place in any of these libraries is like winning the lottery. What many students instead choose to do is find alternative study spots. For those who spend most of their time on McCormick road, the life science library is a clear favorite. While you do need swipe access the building after seven at night, many students simply go beforehand and stay until their work is done. Similarly, it is not as well known but the physics, chemistry, and psychology buildings all have quiet places to study that are always available. For those in the social sciences and humanities, there are even more choices. The Nau/Gibson building is full of couches, empty rooms, and study lounges that always have empty space for students who need to get something done. New Cabell, which has just finished its renovations, has study lounges on every floor as well as a silent lounge on first floor. Not to mention plenty of empty rooms with chalkboards and white boards. For upperclassmen that live on grounds, there are places such as the Bice basement or Lambeth commons that have quiet places to study as well. In conclusion, it is not necessary to fall under the false belief that you must go to one of the libraries during the day or spend a full night on first floor Clemons. There are plenty of lesser-known places that students adopt as their favorite study spots. While exploring UVA during your first semester, it is important to find the place that best suits you.