Your Love-Hate Relationship with Bobst

Your Love-Hate Relationship with Bobst

The good, the bad and the ugly of your new home away from your dorm.

The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library is one of the largest hubs for NYU students, second only to Washington Square Park. You will likely spend more time in Bobst Library grinding away at school work than you will in any other building. You won’t love that experience, but slowly you will grow to appreciate it. In a city filled with distractions, the library is the anchor that keeps us grounded to our academic reality.

An photo illustration of the hallway of the Bobst Library with people occupying the space.

Bobst is a brutalist red sandstone box standing in stark contrast to the rest of the architecture in Greenwich Village. There are no curves to the building; every element from the tiles to the geometric barriers stretching up to the ceiling is angular, making it one of NYU’s most recognizable buildings. The library first opened its doors to students in 1973, but not before facing opposition from the surrounding community. Since then, Bobst has become the academic center of NYU. By the time you reach your senior year, you will have plenty of Bobst tales of your own to tell.

You will inevitably spend some time on lower level two of the library if you have any old-fashioned professors who prefer to grade on paper. Most of the printers are located on this floor. If you don’t want to be reminded that you’ve worked on your final exam into the early hours of the morning, the lack of windows on this floor has you covered.

Eating is prohibited in most parts of the library, so lower level one is where the law-abiding students eat. Next to the designated eating area are vending machines that sell a bottle of Celsius for almost six dollars, but at least they sell them. LL1 hosts classrooms, and the corners at the back of the hallway are where first-time college couples like to make out. 

The atrium on the first floor is mesmerizing. The study area at the back is filled with discussion groups that are there to compare their Starbucks drinks and gossip. Some serious studying can be done here, but productivity is always hampered by the excessive noise levels.

The fifth floor is just like the first floor and is usually filled with first-year students. If you do not wish to be associated with that stereotype, steer clear. 

The seventh floor has a media lab with private screening rooms, but unfortunately they are usually full. 

The eighth floor has the best views in Bobst. The north side reading room is the best spot to study in the entire library and is a silent space. Its floor-to-ceiling windows overlook almost the entirety of Midtown. This reading room offers a panoramic view of the Empire State Building, One Vanderbilt, the Chrysler Building and Hudson Yards — but of course, you are there to study. The natural light in the room during the day helps relax your eyes. However, the room is usually packed, so it’s best to get there early if you want to secure a spot.

A photo-illustration of students sitting in the Eighth floor reading room inn the Bobst Library.

The ninth floor has all the interesting books tucked away in the shelves at the back. Embark on a little maze-y adventure to the back end of this floor at least once during your time at NYU. 

The rest of the floors are interesting in their own right. But that’s for you to explore. By the end of your university years, you will have developed a love-hate relationship with Bobst. The $1,500 Herman Miller chairs will spoil you, but you will regret all the times you see the sunrise through the back window of the first floor. That’s the beauty of Bobst.

Photos by Kevin Wu. Illustrations by Max Van Hosen.

Contact Samson Tu at [email protected].

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