Milstein Library

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About Undergraduate Library Services

Columbia's Library Services and Collections for Undergraduates

Welcome to Columbia and especially to the Libraries. Columbia University Libraries (CUL) is among the nation's top five academic library systems, with holdings of over 9.4 million volumes, more than 100,000 print and electronic journal titles, an extensive collection of databases, manuscripts, rare books, sound recordings, films, and much more. The libraries support the instructional and research information needs of the University. Butler is the largest of the 25 libraries at Columbia and its affiliated institutions, and the one most heavily used by first-year students, especially those in Columbia College and SEAS.  Undergraduates may also use the libraries of Barnard College, Teachers College (especially strong in education and related topics), and Union Theological Seminary (especially strong in religion and philosophy).

Butler Reserves Collection

Located in 208 Butler on the entry level, Butler Reserves is a collection of books and articles selected by faculty to support their current course teaching. Butler Reserves covers most undergraduate classes, as well as graduate classes in history and humanities. For example, reserve readings for courses in the Core Curriculum (e.g., Contemporary Civilization, Literature Humanities) are available in Butler Reserves. Reserve materials usually circulate for two hours (or overnight after 6 p.m.) Use CLIO's Course Reserves tab or the Library Reserves button in CourseWorks to find reserves readings for your classes.

Reserves materials for SEAS courses are in the Engineering library, and a number of Columbia's departmental libraries and distinctive collections (e.g., East Asian) maintain reserve materials for courses in the subject fields they serve.

The Philip L. Milstein Family College Library

The interdisciplinary undergraduate collection is housed in Milstein Library in Butler. The collection is shelved in the 24/7 reading rooms on the second, third, and fourth floors. With approximately 50,000 volumes, the collection is especially strong in history, literature, and the social sciences supporting the undergrduate curricula in Columbia College, General Studies, and to a limited extent, SEAS. Undergraduate students may check out Milstein books for four weeks, and officers and graduate students may check out books for the semester. Books may be checked out from the Butler Reserves Desk (2nd floor) or Butler Circulation Desk (3rd floor).

24-Hour Reading Rooms and Computer Lab

The Milstein Library provides 24-hour study areas and a CUIT computer lab, in 213 Butler, during the fall and spring semesters. These reading rooms also provide power/data connections for laptop users and wireless access. A valid CUID is required to enter the library.

Butler Reference Department

The reference desk in room 301 is the place to go for face-to-face assistance in finding answers to course-related research or general questions and for help in using print and electronic resources in CLIO and Library databases. The reference room has biographies, bibliographies, indexes, encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, gazetteers and other reference works in many languages.

Other Library Services

Other library services and collections will become familiar as you go through the academic year including the

We invite you to explore the library resources available to you and remember: there are staff members at service desks throughout the libraries to assist you and provide information.

Orientation and Library Instruction

Orientation tours are offered by many of the libraries in the early part of the fall semester to help new students learn their way around. The new student orientation program includes an introduction to the Libraries. Later in the school year, undergraduates enrolled in University Writing complete a library assignment that includes additional instruction in library use. The Libraries offer a variety of instructional workshops throughout the year on using LibraryWeb, CLIO, and other resources for research. Check for schedules in the libraries you use most often.

Your first year will be an exciting learning experience, and we look forward to working with you to make the most of the libraries' services and collections.


Undergraduate Library Services
Butler Library
535 West 114th St.
New York, NY 10027
(212) 854-0520
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