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Welcome to the Libe!

Fátima introduces us to one of her favorite places on campus: the Gould Library!

Fátima introduces us to one of her favorite places on campus: the Gould Library!

The Gould Library (named after Carleton’s fourth president), affectionately referred to as the Libe, is a landmark on campus. It is also one of my favorite places to study! Here’s a semi-quick rundown on what makes the Libe so special.


Unsurprisingly, its most popular use is exactly what you would imagine: to study! However, what distinguishes the Libe from other academic buildings on campus is its commitment to providing a comfortable study spot for every kind of student out there. It does so by taking advantage of its unconventional floor layout. Allow me to explain.

Fourth and Fifth Floors: Hanging Out

You might be surprised to learn that the floor you walk onto as you enter the Libe is the fourth floor. Home to the Writing Center and Quantitative Reasoning Center, the Athenaeum, the Rookery, and the IT Helpdesk, as well as several computers and printers for the students to use, fourth is usually the busiest and loudest floor. People can be found working on group projects, checking out movies, or simply studying with friends.

Fifth floor is a sort of half-floor that functions as a continuation of fourth. It is also meant for students to work collaboratively and speak at a typical inside volume.

Third Floor: Quiet Discussion

The third floor is my personal favorite. Though quieter than the fourth, this one still welcomes people to study together and have some [quieter] conversations. It, however, offers many more individual study spaces than fourth floor, which are the ones I can usually be found in!

Me, studying in a personal desk in the third floor of the library.
Me doing some readings in my favorite spot in Third Libe.

Third floor also hosts several classes and computer labs. Professors, teacher assistants, and students can reserve these to host classes, meetings, and movie screenings!

Second Floor: Shhhh

The second floor is for some serious individual studying. Populated by individual desks and other private study spaces, second Libe is definitely not the place to ask your friend how his date was or work on a report with your lab partner. The handful of times I have been down to the second floor have been precisely because I want to avoid all distractions, including other people.

First Floor: Monastery Quiet

To be honest with you, first Libe creeps me out. Sneezing or opening a candy wrapper might get you some dirty looks on the second floor. Even thinking too loudly will get you barred from the first (OK, not really, but you get the point). This sort of silence is too eerie for me, but I know people who rejoice in the quietness and serenity of the floor.

Academic Resources

The Libe is so much more than a place to write papers or cram two weeks of biology in one day. You gotta love the plethora of resources that it offers for you!

The Writing Center

There are few things that are better for a piece of written text than a fresh pair of eyes (especially after you’ve been working on that philosophy essay for 12 hours and have become completely desensitized to it). Well, you are in luck because that is exactly what the Writing Center offers!

Students [Pre-Covid] in the Writing Center

Being able to get individualized feedback on your work is a great opportunity.
Students with all sorts of academic expertise work in the Writing Center. Student writing consultants are trained to provide assistance at any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to revising. They also help you with grammar and punctuation, not just form and content. They even provide some multilingual assistance for students (like me!) who might be new to writing academically in English.

Quantitative Resource Center

The Quantitative Resource Center (or QRC, for short) self-describes as the Writing Center, but for numbers instead of words! Students who work here are trained to help you with anything math-y in non-mats/stats classes. This includes how to use Excel or interpret economics graphs.

The Staff!

Librarians are heavily underrated. No, seriously, they are awesome! Aside from the student workers who work in the Writing Center and QRC, the Libe has several professional librarians who are ready to help you with anything you might need. Literally, ANYTHING. I have met with a couple of librarians before to discuss everything from how to cite in Chicago style and find articles on undocumented Hispanic elders’ health, to what was Aristotle’s view on theater as an artistic representation of hope. I am telling you, these people know everything about everything. And if they don’t know, they will surely help you find out!

Books (obviously). But also much more.

Selected Books
Each month, the Library will choose a theme and recommend literary works related to that theme. These are their picks for Black History Month.

The Libe has tons (and I mean, TONS) of books for you to check out (shocking, I know!). They have everything from classics by Julio Cortázar to books with titles like The copper deposits of the Clifton-Morenci district, Arizona. But books are not all the Libe has to offer. Movies, periodicals, children’s books, newspaper articles, Bibles… you can find them all (and check them out) on one of the building’s many floors.

And in the rare case in which you absolutely cannot find what you need in the Libe, you can use the InterLibrary Loan program to request items from St. Olaf College or other libraries.


As much fun as classes, books, and studying can be, the Libe offers itself for students to have some, let’s say, “real” fun. The Silent Dance Party is perhaps the most famous of these traditions. Students meet on the first floor on one the reading days preceding finals, dancing away their stress!

Students dancing in the Library.
This was the first Silence Dance Party in the COVID era!

At 11:00 pm, students, with their headphones on, play “start” on a carefully curated playlist at the same time. Then, they make their way up from the first floor out of the Library and eventually to other parts of campus. The key here is to be completely, utterly, and perfectly quiet. There are people actually studying, after all.

Fátima strives to learn everything about everything, but is especially interested in Sociology/AnthropologyPsychology, and Disney! As a freshman, she can’t wait to introduce her peers to her native Guatemalan culture, practice her newly acquired ASL skills, and play in the snow for the first time. In her free time, Fátima can be found watching cartoons, poorly playing the ukulele, or desperately missing her dog, Cosmo. Meet the other bloggers!