Using the YLS Library

January 11, 2008

J.L., 1L

When I was visiting law schools for the various admit weekends, I noticed one common thread running through every school tour: the amount of time spent on showcasing the law library. I took it to be a not-so-subtle indication of just how much time we’d be spending there between classes and before exams. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised, however: there is a lot more to the Yale law school than its library, and I find myself checking up on my assigned readings or going over our legal writing homework in places ranging from the courtyard to the seminar rooms. Since I often have an hour or two between classes, the lounge and the dining hall are great places to either cram some last minute studying in, grab a bite to eat or otherwise catch up with friends.

That’s not to say that Yale Law doesn’t have an exceptional library, and this is coming from someone who’s not the biggest fan of doing his studying in the stacks. For one thing, our library is a lot larger than you might think from the tour we give to prospective students. I’ll make the confession that there are still parts of it I haven’t “discovered,” and it took me about two months to actually figure out where the Lower East Side is. Beyond all the resources it provides (books for your research, DVDs for your free time, friendly librarians who give out free coffee mugs at the beginning of the year), the library accommodates all the students who need to get their quiet reading time in.

I’ve realized that the main reading room is a great place to sit down next to your classmates and soak in the atmosphere of quiet diligence. It’s also one of the more photographed parts of the law school, and for good reason—I find that I think of myself as a real law student when I’m sitting at the table underneath all that stained glass and old-fashioned lighting. There are also carrels on the upper and lower floors, which are officially reserved for the 2Ls and 3Ls (although plenty of 1Ls will make use of them whenever they open up). And finally, there are quiet areas hidden between the various shelves on every floor where you can sit down, clear your head from the hectic schedule of the typical law student, or simply doze off...not that I know anything about that…