Libraries—sanctuaries of words and rows of knowledge, history and wonder. They give everyone free access to information and scholarly books and journals regardless of social or economic status. Nonetheless, the other side of the not-so-fun intellectual pursuit, is during exam season, when the libraries become our second homes. We’re cramming for exams, frantically doing research, terrified of not meeting paper deadlines or failing important compulsory modules.
With final exams drawing close, why not head to these fabulous libraries in Austin, guaranteed to help you meet deadlines? From public to specialized university libraries, these libraries have an assortment of rare and new books, manuscripts, newspapers, journals and everything in between.
Part of the public library network, the Central Library opened in 2017 and currently holds more than 350,000 books and 13 Shared Learning Rooms that hold up to 10 people, whenever you want to book a room for your study group. Just so that you can get particularly inspired, the Central Library boasts an incredible roof garden with views of downtown and Lady Bird Lake. I mean, nothing pairs quite so well with a great book as a stunning view.
The Central Library proudly carries a Platinum LEED certification for its commitment to sustainability, featuring a solar panel arbor, which is also the largest solar installation downtown, a huge bike parking garage, and a cistern on the roof that siphons rain water to the bathrooms. What’s more, with 589 seats throughout the building, you can finish your papers even last-minute and prepare for your next exam without any issues. So, if you reside in Austin, hurry up and get your library card to enjoy all the amazing facilities the library has placed at disposal.
📚 710 W. César Chávez Street
Whether you’re a student of Latin American or postcolonial studies, are doing research for your tormenting thesis or are simply interested in the history of the region and the bilateral relations between the US and Latin American countries, you can’t skip a visit to the Benson. The Benson Collection is part of the University of Texas in Austin, dedicated to protecting cultural heritage and preserving Latinx history. It houses a remarkable collection of over one million resources encompassing fields like politics, human rights, history, film, music, literature and indigenous languages.
The library plays a crucial part in the preservation of indigenous languages. Unfortunately, many of them are at risk of becoming dying tongues, but the Benson has managed to document over 300 indigenous languages. If you’re doing research, whatever your location, you can request digital copies of a broad range of materials, from rare books and manuscripts to maps, letters, posters, pamphlets, and broadsides, mainly from Mexico, U.S. Latino culture, Central America, and the Pampas.
📚 Sid Richardson Hall, 2300 Red River Street
Founded in 1985, the Lake Travis Community Library is a meeting spot for community members and houses more than 40,000 books, movies, audiobooks, and magazines. Eligible for library cards are all Texas residents and anyone who’s 18 or older. The current library is an 11,000 sq ft building, a great space to not only unleash your inner bookwork, but also to engage with the community through concerts, talks and gatherings. Some of the events that stand out are its book clubs, chess club, writing and mah-jongg groups and story time for kids.
What makes the library even more special are its programs for people of all ages like Preschool Story Time and Great Decisions, a program on public involvement in foreign affairs. Additionally, the library accepts donations at The Friends of the Library Bookstore, so if you have any extra book you want to share with your community, don’t forget to give them some love!
📚 1938 Lohmans Crossing
If you’re studying law, the TSLL is your idea of both heaven and hell. Another specialized library, the TSLL is the research hub for the Texas Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Office of the Attorney General and other state agencies and commissions. Sounds a bit intimidating, but it shouldn’t be, because the library also serves the citizens of the state.
The building stands poignant northwest of the Capitol building on the ground floor and has over 100,000 volumes consisting of Attorney General Opinions, Historical Texas Statutes, Law Practice Management, and more. The library opens Mondays through Fridays and you can also request document delivery of court records, in case you need them for case studies or exam preparation.
📚 Room G01, Tom C. Clark Building, 205 West 14th Street
The Ransom Center is a notable humanities research center at the University of Texas at Austin and a very special place if you’re looking to broaden the mind. Its extensive collection includes almost one million books, more than 42 million manuscripts, five million photographs and 100,00 works of art. The centerpiece of the collection are personal items and notes from Jack Kerouac, Doris Lessing, Albert Einstein and original works by Frida Kahlo. If that’s not the definition of impressive, I don’t know what is.
There are some pretty strict guidelines on using the facility and handling materials properly, but that’s only because their vast collection is priceless and one-of-a-kind. Given the delicate and indispensable nature of the materials, you need to request them in advance and they’ll be delivered to the Reading and Viewing Room. If you’re researching on anything related to literature and arts, get ready, because this will be your new hideaway.
📚 300 West 21st Street
Another specialist library, the Life Science Library’s materials revolve around the fields of biology, medicine, nutrition and pharmacy. Located on the east wing of the building, in the historic space that originally served as the university library until 1977, the library was renovated in 2007 and now displays energy-efficient chandeliers, maintaining its original aura and design.
The Life Science Library, besides being an epicenter for anything related to natural sciences, is a great place to take inspiration from, because it continues to have that old library charm, with ethereal beams of sunlight upon rows of wooden shelves filled with multi-colored books. Whenever you want to take a break from staring at a computer screen, or when your brain starts to play tricks on you, you can always look up and admire the ornate wooden ceiling of the Hall of Noble Words, featuring 31 quotes from historical figures and novels.
📚 Main Building, 2400 Inner Campus Drive