Shhhh! They're trying to study
Go anywhere on campus this week and you're likely to find students hunkered down with a book — or more likely, a laptop or notebook computer.
It's finals week, and every chair or couch has been turned into a study space.
How and where students study is often a personal choice based on food options, noise levels, architecture and caffeine availability.
Some libraries at the University of Illinois are quiet. Some aren't.
The Undergraduate Library (also known by the unfortunate acronym UGL) can be a great place to study and meet friends at the same time — at least on the top floor, which is designed for group collaborations.
"I don't really know if people get work done there, but it's a good place to go and it's very social," said UI senior Courtney Lai, a graphic design major.
Serious students go to the lower level, where the rule is no talking. Not even whispering.
Or to the Reading Room in the Main Library.
Lai also likes the ACES Library, which is "open and bright" and looks out over the south quad.
"It's really beautiful in there," she said.
The coffeehouse crowd
Some students prefer the ambiance of the coffee shop, where caffeine is always within arm's reach. Espresso Royale and Caffe Paradiso are among the favorites.
UI junior Ryan Kuramitsu is not a coffee drinker but says they offer a good environment to work with friends.
"There's a social buzz. I'm not going to fall asleep in a coffee shop," he said.
He prefers what he calls a "hidden gem," the Etc Coffeehouse at the Wesley Foundation in Urbana.
Etc offers fair-trade coffee and asks only for donations in return. During finals week, the staff puts out coffee, hot chocolate and snacks.
"It's free to come in and take a load off and have a cup of joe, and if you want to drop a buck to help the foundation you can," he said.
"It's just so warm and welcoming."
Plus there's a student lounge nearby where students can take an occasional nap.
Follow the engineers
The Grainger Engineering Library is the place for the truly serious, students agree.
Quiet is the name of the game — except for one day last week, when one apparently overwhelmed student "just screamed bloody murder," Lai said.
"I didn't see him, but you could hear it ringing. For that one instance everyone was like 'whoa,'" she said.
Then they all did sort of a group shrug and went back to the books.
"It's a very serious place," Lai said.
Something for everyone
The Illini Union is popular because it offers lots of study choices (besides hotel rooms). And a food court. And a coffee shop. And "an excess amount of couches," Lai said.
Kuramitsu prefers the Courtyard Cafe, where he can study, talk with friends and listen to music against the backdrop of an espresso machine or smoothie blender.
"I'm extroverted, and I enjoy being in a public area where people are talking around me but maybe not to me," he said.
The Pine Lounge, and adjacent Presidents Lounge, offer a more traditional library feel, with bookshelves, paneling and portraits of UI presidents.
"It just feels like I'm sitting in the den of a home of a rich person," Kuramitsu said.
He's never touched the books, but "I've taken naps under them."
A little CLASS
A new study area opened at the Union this fall called CLASS — for Computer Lab and Study Space.
It's on the lower level in an area that was once a billiards room and later the "Oasis," sort of a spa/exercise area for students.
It offers a combination of individual study areas and group spaces. Three or four students can collaborate on a presentation with a 55-inch high-definition computer monitor. For larger class projects, students can reserve a room with seating for 10.
There are also 90 individual work spaces, 54 with PCs and 36 with plugs and USB connections. Students can also buy popcorn, candy and soft drinks.
And it's open until 3 a.m.
"We usually are kicking out 40 kids every night," said Scott McCartney, senior associate director for retail operations. "At 8 a.m., you could find a seat, no problem."