17 great places to study at UBC

Dec 19 2017, 5:24 pm

The first week of school at the University of British Columbia campus has come and gone, meaning full study modes are now beginning to kick into full gear.

A good study location is important to achieve an optimal level of studying and information retention. For many, this might mean studying on campus to escape the distractions that come from the comforts of home.

Here is a diverse range of places to get your study on at UBC for both returning students and newcomers:



Irving K. Barber Learning Centre

Located at the centre of the UBC campus and just a three minute walk from the bus loop, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre has been the beating heart of academic and social life at the university since it opened in 2008, which incorporates the 1925-built historic library.

The vast 250,000-square-foot, four-storey building is divided into four areas and usages: the library, the public study concourse, classrooms and the Chapman Learning Commons.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

The library takes up the north wing of the building, with the best library study areas located on the west side of the building – where there are window-side tables and study carrels that face Koerner Plaza and the clock tower. However, the library’s most famous space is the Ridington Room, famously nicknamed as the “Harry Potter Room” for its winding staircase and portrait-plastered walls.

Public study concourse areas and classroom space occupy most of the Learning Centre’s other areas. The main atrium and grand staircase is outfitted with numerous desks and chairs for students to use as a study spot, but the area can become ‘food court noisy’ during the daytime and into the early evening hours due to group chatter.

The Chapman Learning Commons, a historic space on the third floor that resembles the Great Hall in Hogwarts from Harry Potter, offers a relatively quiet study environment. There are a number of fast computers, both iMac computers and PC’s, for students and faculty to use.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

But if you require a zero-noise and distraction environment to reach an optimal level of studying, the fourth floor’s Nass Reading Room and Musqueam Reading Room are designated quiet spaces for studying.

If you need need a bite or a caffeine fix, Ike’s Cafe on the main floor is always a popular grab-and-go eatery for students studying inside the building.

The Learning Centre is just across the street from the new Student Union Building. It has one of the campus’ longest operating hours: from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. throughout the school year and 24/7 operating hours during the final exam seasons.

Address: 1961 East Mall, Vancouver

Law Library at Allard Hall

Allard Hall, the hub for UBC’s Faculty of Law, is located just north of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Completed in 2011, the building is one of UBC’s newest and most modern buildings with some of the best study space around.

The tables in the main areas are massive and there are study carrels for those who need an environment for enhanced concentration. Electric outlets are available for almost every single seat, which are reclining chairs that are almost excessively comfortable.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Large floor-to-ceiling windows provide ample natural lighting for the main study area, supplemented by smooth lighting and desk lamps for the main study area.

The computers in this library, mainly iMac computers, are among the fastest and most reliable on campus.

Address: 1822 East Mall, Vancouver
Phone: 604-822-4238
Website: http://law.library.ubc.ca/

Walter C. Koerner Library

Just across from Irving K. Barber Learning Centre is the Walter C. Koerner Library, another major library in the heart of the UBC campus. The building has four floors above ground and two massive underground levels that were part of the old Sedgewick Undergraduate Library.

There are study carrels on every single floor, especially within the underground levels for those who require silence and few distractions. Within the upper floors, there are study carrels along the windows that face Koerner Plaza.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

As the library was built in 1997, prior to the age of the laptop computer, electric outlets can be difficult to find at some tables and some outlets simply do not work. As well, the computers on most floors are antiquated and the Wi-Fi connection in the underground levels can be spotty.

However, the first level area near the entrance and service desk was recently renovated with more study areas, casual seating and quick computers for students to use.

Address: 1958 Main Mall, Vancouver
Phone: 604-822-2406
Website: http://koerner.library.ubc.ca/
Fun fact:
This book-shaped building was designed by the late Arthur Erickson.

Education Library at the Neville Scarfe Building

Located inside the Neville Scarfe Building, UBC’s Education Library is quite and seldom busy despite being one of the nicer study spots on campus. It has large windows and a variety of study area configurations, including long tables, study carrels and round tables for group work.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Over the summer, the library’s lobby area underwent a renovation with a new circulation desk, upgrades to the Wi-Fi system, and additional electric outlets and furniture to increase the seating capacity.

Address: 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver
Phone: 604-822-5381
Website: http://education.library.ubc.ca/

Woodward Library

Woodward Library is the largest Science library on the UBC campus and boasts the largest biomedical collection in Western Canada. The study areas are relatively quiet in the upper floors, including private rooms that do not require booking.

But be warned that most of the library’s facilities are somewhat dated considering parts of the library were built more than 50 years ago. Electric outlets are difficult to find and air ventilation can be stale.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Only the ‘Garden Level’ – the lower level of the building – boasts modern facilities after undergoing renovations in 2010.

Address: 2198 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver
Phone: 604-822-2883
Website: http://woodward.library.ubc.ca/

Asian Library

The Asian Library is housed under a building with a pyramid-shaped roof with a Japanese-style pagoda and skylight at its pinnacle. Located just behind the C.K. Choi Building, the library is accessed through a gravel path through a pocket forest.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Studying space within this library is somewhat limited relative to other campus libraries, but it’s also one of the quietest libraries given that it receives little foot traffic.

Address: 1871 West Mall, Vancouver
Phone: 604-822-2427
Website: http://asian.library.ubc.ca/

David Lam Management Research Library

The business library inside the northernmost tip of the Henry Angus Building’s second and third floors recently underwent an extensive renovation funded by Canaccord Financial Inc.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Keep in mind that the library is small and is frequently packed with Sauder School of Business students during the peak study seasons of the school year.

Address: 2053 Main Mall, Vancouver
Website: http://lam.library.ubc.ca/

X̱wi7x̱wa Library

UBC’s very own library for First Nations studies is largely hidden from view for those who are walking on the West Mall. It is directly across from the Geography Building inside the First Nations Longhouse and boasts a mini waterfall.

While it is one of UBC’s newer libraries, keep in mind that it is also a very small library with limited operating hours that do not stretch into the evening.

Address: 1985 West Mall, Vancouver
Phone: 604-822-8738
Website: http://xwi7xwa.library.ubc.ca/

Student spaces

Student Nest: the new Student Union Building

UBC’s brand new $107-million, 250,000-square-foot Student Union Building, a.k.a. the UBC Student Nest, provides students with a one-stop destination for all their needs, including ample study spaces that are just footsteps away from a wide selection of foods and services.


ubc student nest sub 34

Image: Vancity Buzz

ubc student nest sub 40

Image: Vancity Buzz

There are study areas located around the main atrium, including the food court-like spaces and the desks that line the glass facade and overlook the new West Mall plaza and grassy knoll. Another large, multi-storey study space with comfortable single-seat red arm chairs is located on the opposite side of the building and is relatively quiet.

The building’s operating hours are from 7 a.m. until midnight throughout the school year.

Address: 6133 University Boulevard, Vancouver
Website: http://www.ams.ubc.ca/nest/

Forest Sciences Centre

The Forest Sciences Centre is situated on the southern end of the academic core of the UBC campus. It is an awe-inspiring place to study given the building interior’s extensive use of wood to showcase the capabilities of wood construction.

The building’s main atrium, where the study areas are located, is under a large skylight supported by a ‘tree canopy’ and ‘tree columns’. In addition, the walls of the atrium are lined with Douglas-fir and maple wood panels. There are also raised study areas within the atrium and even a so-called ‘treehouse’.

Address: 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver
Website: http://www.forestry.ubc.ca/general-information/forest-sciences-centre/
Note: This building is locked and requires a key card to get in after 6 p.m.

Life Sciences Institute

There are two massive open atriums inside the Life Sciences Institute building, which is located near the Forest Sciences Centre. Both atriums are under a large skylight, with one atrium affixed with rows of long tables and the other atrium with informal circular seating areas.

Address: 2350 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver
Website: http://lsi.ubc.ca/
Fun fact: There’s a research morgue in the basement level of this building.
Note: This building is locked and requires a key card to get in after 6 p.m.

Student lounges

Student lounge spaces dedicated for certain departments and faculties are scattered across campus.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

An empty classroom

A seldom used space for studying purposes are the hundreds of classrooms and theatres scattered across campus buildings, when these spaces are empty and unused. These spaces are perfect for group work and late night studying. However, be prepared to vacate the space if there is an incoming class or an event booked in the room.

The best empty classrooms are located in the Buchanan D building, SWING Space and the Henry Angus Building.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Other great places

The Boulevard Coffee Roasting Co.

This cafe fronting University Boulevard and just footsteps away from buses has long been a favourite meeting place and short-term study area for students. There’s a wide selection of coffees and teas as well as a diverse healthy menu that includes an assortment of pastries, sandwiches, salads and snacks.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Address: 5970 University Boulevard, Vancouver
Phone: 604-827-4488
Website: http://www.theboulevard.ca/index.html
Free Wi-Fi: Yes

Bean Around The World

You might not know this place exists if you don’t live on campus. Located at the southern end of the UBC campus, on the outskirts of the academic core, is a large Bean Around The World outpost. It’s a loose space, with ample indoor seating and an outdoor patio during fair weather. Aside from the typical cafe drinks, the menu includes a range of sandwiches, wraps, soups and even pizzas.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Address: 6308 Thunderbird Boulevard, Vancouver (next to the Old Barn Community Centre)
Phone: 604-568-8893
Website: http://batw.ca/
Free Wi-Fi: Yes

Doughgirls Comfort Kitchen + Bakeshop

Located in Wesbrook Village, this is arguably the best cafe on campus, given its charming interior decor, the friendliness of staff, and incredible selection of drinks and food. Popular menu items include: savoury pies, butternut mac ‘n cheese, king ranch casserole, mom’s meatloaf sandwich and a variety of sweets such as the caramel nut sticky bun, greek yogurt cheesecake, tarts and more.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Address: 3322 Shrum Lane, Vancouver
Phone: 604-333-5474
Website: http://www.doughgirlsbakeshop.com/index.php
Free Wi-Fi: Yes

Blenz Coffee at Westbrook Village

One of the nicest Blenz Coffee locations in the city is located in the Robert H. Lee Graduate School’s MBA House at Wesbrook Village.

Image: Vancity Buzz

Image: Vancity Buzz

Address: 3381 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver
Phone: 604-568-2660
Website: http://blenz.com/
Free Wi-Fi: Yes

Note: Access to Wi-Fi is free for students, faculty and even guests across all university-operated campus buildings.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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