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Guide to Copenhagen reading rooms

Study environment — It can be hard to pull yourself together when your sofa is your bed, and there is a Magnum ice lolly in the freezer. Lucky for you, the University Post has set up this extensive (but not exhaustive) guide to Copenhagen's many reading rooms. So now you are at least one step closer to getting the curriculum over with.

For many students at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), the working day is made up of about 12 lessons a week that actually entail having your butt in your seat. The rest of your time is spent on independent study – the art of churning through 40-page articles in your syllabus, or endless weekly assignments.

It may take many years before you really find out how you best do the studying. Some get up early and take up all the spots in the best reading rooms from 8-16. Others sleep in, and pore over the difficult words until late at night instead.

No matter what kind of person you are, the reading rooms can be a great help in structuring your time effectively and meeting other students. But UCPH is a maze of campuses and departments, and the range of places to study may seem completely overwhelming. The University Post therefore offers you a guide to all the reading rooms you can use to fight the pile of unread syllabus literature.

Good luck!

North Campus

North Campus is the home of students from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and has a very respectable selection of reading spots where you can sit with a thick book or discuss theorems with your fellow students. The aula at the H.C. Ørsted Institute is, in particular, frequently used for homework and projects. But actual reading rooms are few and far between.

KUB NORD

This is what it is like: KUB Nord, which rolls off the tongue better than its official name ‘The Faculty Library of the Natural and Health Sciences’ is a favourite among UCPH people from several faculties. In addition to having almost 500 student places, the library has a nice mix of reading rooms, conference rooms and quiet study spaces. The majority of students are in hardcore study mode when they hit KUB Nord so you can easily end up sitting between a mathematician cursing imaginary numbers and a medical student memorising types of wound treatments. Quiet spaces are to be found in the old reading room and in the two silent reading rooms that are associated with the book hall’s ground floor. Group spaces are in the Info room (the room with murals) and on both floors in the book hall.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: If you get hungry, KUB Nord has a very honest cafeteria where you can get the dish of the day and other good things. Automatic coffee in the ground floor costs DKK 8, but look around and bring your own coffee cup. If you end up choosing the wrong machine and even have to get a paper cup, you may end up paying café prices. In addition, KUB Nord has a small lunch kitchen for free use. Here you will find a kettle, a microwave and a fridge.

How to get there: KUB Nord is at the intersection between Tagensvej and Nørre Allé. The address is Nørre Alle 49 and the building is almost impossible to overlook. In front is an extensive grassy area, which can, of course, be a major diversion on sunny days.

Mathematical Library

This is what it is like: At the Mathematical Library, there are books as far as the eye can see. In two storeys. The library is in the large central room in the Hans Christian Ørsted Institute, and contains several long rows of black tables with grey reading lamps. The reading lamps are usually bent into all kinds of strange angles: perhaps because they are never really used, perhaps because the students do an awful lot to get the lamps to shine absolutely perfect. If you are not the reading lamp type, you can familiarise yourself with the fluorescent yellow lights, or withdraw to the aula with one of the many books.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: Just turn towards the ground floor and the lobby of the Hans Christian Ørsted Institute. Here you will find the canteen. It will send you off with a cup of scalding hot coffee when you and your books turn up in the wee hours of the morning. Your caffeine-shaky hands and tired eyes can also find coffee in the canteen at the Biocenter or at the August Krogh Institute (we have heard on the grapevine that the Biocentre has the best canteen).

How to get there: On the clever map graphics showing North Campus, you can see that the reading room is actually located in building 4. But it will all make sense once you enter the building. Up to the 1st floor and then into the largest room you can find.

 

Panum - the new one

This is what it is like: If you are going through some heavy syllabus, and your eyes glaze over at the thought of the next exam, it might be a good idea to got to Panum to do your readings. Here you are surrounded by future medical doctors. Last year, several of Panum’s reading rooms got a significant upgrade. One of them, which is now light, and can seat approximately 100 students, is said to be so popular you may be forced to sit on the floor, if you don’t arrive on time. And it is supposed to be extremely quiet. We heard that you go through a soundproofed lock on your way in.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: At Panum, there are four obvious coffee spots. Maersk Tower has a combined canteen and café (Bldg. 38) which, like many other of the UCPH canteens, is run by Chartwells. Here, the going rate is usually DKK 5 for a small cup of regular (i.e. black, filter) coffee from the machine and DKK 10 for a large one. Apart from this, there is an outlier canteen at the dentists (Bldg. 18.2), and the Shabaz coffee bar, which, according to the large sprawling Panum map is between buildings 9 and 15, near the Panum Student Club. Shabaz has an excellent menu, but the prices feel more like a café in the trendy Vesterbro district.

How to get there: It is actually almost impossible to miss Panum. And it is impressive if you can find your way around the huge complex.

Panum - the grisly one

This is what it is like: The reading room is not for the faint-hearted. You do your readings here flanked by body parts with needles in them and science’y things in large display cases, so the medical students have something to, well, study. Last year, this reading room was moved down into the “grave” or the basement, and somewhere in Panum’s dark cellars, there is also another grisly reading room with lots of – things – in jars. But this is not for everyone. So leave it to the medical students and keep in the well-lit areas. And near a door, so you still have a chance to find your out of the complex.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: The four coffee spots we have found for you above, also work here. The Student Club at Panum also serves cheap coffee and cake. Rumours have it that they serve free coffee during lunch hours.

How to get there: The reading room is located in building 14, down in the aforementioned grave. Panum has been gracious enough to draw up a map of the site to us, the lost souls. You can find it here.

South Campus

KUA1

This is what it is like: KUA1, at the Faculty of Humanities, just prefers not to be a part of the conversation when it comes to good reading rooms. You can understand this, as the original KUA building did not offer much to the bookworm. Both the IKK (Arts and Cultural Studies), NoRS (Nordic Studies and Linguistics) and (English, Germanic and Romance Studies) Engerom departments have, however, libraries for the humanities and several of them even have a nice view of Njalsgade street.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: It is actually coffee in, coffee out at the KUA1 complex. The canteen is nearby and then there is the Nordisk Kaffebar which is always good for cheap (and organic) coffee and snacks.

How to get there: The IKK and Engerom libraries can be found on the third floor of building 21 and 23, respectively. Biblo-NoRS is distributed throughout building 21 and 27. So you might have to take out the large map of KUA to find them.

KUA2

This is what it is like: The high-ceiling new building from 2014 offers a wide variety of study spots in all shapes and formats. The departments ToRS, MEF and SAXO each have reading rooms in each of their knowledge centres, which (apparently) is a fancy word for library. Here you can, for example, be surrounded by Japanese literature while you study it. Especially the ToRs Library is highly praised by a number of students, who also give kudos to the librarian Søren (#sørenforprez). However, users of the library also points to the pile up of books that master’s thesis writers deposit in six-month intervals in the reading room.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: From the glass-clad reading rooms you can look directly down at the café Wicked Rabbit in the centre of KUA2. The name alludes to the rabbit food aka vegetarian products on the menu. But it does also include coffee and smoothies.

How to get there: KUA2 is located in the middle of the South Campus-labyrinth and is located off Njalsgade street. From the building 13 information desk you can look up to the three libraries. They are behind the glass panes of the 1st and 2nd floor in buildings 10, 12 and 14.

KUA3

This is what it is like: KUA3 is where the theology, law and information science students belong. In the middle of the building, you will find a large, bright atrium with surprisingly good acoustics. The main aula itself is buzzing with movement, you can sit and work in groups, and yet the sound levels rarely exceed what you find in an ordinary café. One end of the room is dominated by an outsized stairs. Here, the steps are large enough to be used as tables, but you can also jump behind the stairs to the silent reading room. Here it is not quite as bright, but it is verging on scarily quiet. If you still want to be able to do concentrated work, but have an easy buzz of happy people in the background, then look up to the 2nd and 3rd floors. Almost all the way around the atrium, you will find reading rooms and spaces, where you and your favourite statute book should be able to find a corner.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: The need for coffee is something that KUA3 clearly understands. No matter where you are in the building, it is never far to a caffeine fix. Apart from the canteen, which should be more or less OK, but which is only open between 11 and 14, you will find the coffee bar Hava Java close to the entrance at the Islands Brygge metro station. They are open until 8 pm on weekdays – finally some opening hours that make sense. At the top of the building, tucked away in a corner, you will find the law students’ hang out – the parakaffen. If you can find it, they usually also have cheap coffee. And if all else fails and you’re sitting on a Sunday evening at 18:00 at KUA3 and have the craving, you can, as a last resort, turn towards the coffee machines at the entrance to the atrium.

How to get there: KUA3 is the UCPH building which is closest to the metro. When you turn up (out of breath) up the stairs at the Islands Brygge station simply turn away from Ørestad Boulevard and veer slightly to the right, and the glass and concrete-clad building towers up in front of you.

Faculty Library of Humanities

This is what it is like: One of South Campus’ glass bricks is home to the Humanities library, which offers the most airy impression you can ever imagine for a reading room. There is plenty of light and views of the sky above the Islands Brygge district. This means the space for big ideas, while you are entranced by the cloud formations. There is actually so much space that you are not (really) bothered by your studymate’s jaw gymnastics when their candy, carrots and other all-too-hard snacks need to be consumed. There are places on the 1st floor, where small talk is permitted, while there is the more traditional reading room silence on the 2nd floor. You can also book smaller rooms for group work, if you want the option of mouthing off to the studymate in your group whose discourse analysis is complete nonsense.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: KUA’s large canteen is a minute-and-a-half walk away, so the selection of both drinks and solid fare is fine. If you don’t get the coffee in the canteen, it can be had for DKK 8 in the machine.

How to get there: Between KUA1 and KUA2 it is a square, glass behemoth. This is the faculty library. Go there. Open your book. Finished.

City Campus

The CSS complex is a very twisty thing and it is (unfortunately) not a misprint when the map tells you that when you want to go to building 4, it is the one located between building 8 and building 26, and on the other side is building 18, which apparently is only called building 18 when you are in the basement, but if you go through building 18 and up to the first floor, you need to use a different entrance, which also includes building 15. And the Library of the Social Sciences on Gothersgade street is building 709-1 in accordance with the same system.

The Social Sciences Library

This is what it is like: The Faculty of Social Sciences Library has 292 study spots and extends over three floors, four silent reading rooms, six group rooms and several lounge areas. The library, perhaps due to its location close to Nørreport, attracts students from several campuses, and you should not turn up too far late in the morning if you want to make sure you get one of the good spots. Even though thick books are read here, and many curses are uttered over incomprehensible Bauman-quotes, the atmosphere is relatively relaxed. The building’s many group rooms and offbeat ideas give a good flow for your reading. And you can borrow slippers if you get cold feet.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: The only major negative for the Faculty of Social Sciences Library is that they do not have a coffee bar (however, an enterprising man has spotted it, and often has a coffee van out in front). If you have your own instant cup and have brought your own cup with you, the library offers kitchen and electric kettles, so even though it requires preparation, you can easily get your caffeine craving satisfied, while you fight your way through the latest addition to your own home library.

How to get there: The Faculty of Social Sciences library in Gothersgade is, depending on where you cross the road, 270-280 metres from Nørreport. It takes a minute on the bike, and somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes to walk, so it’s no wonder that the building is an attractive place to study.

Building 4

This is what it is like: You have to really sneak around the CSS reading room in building 4 if you want to stay friends with everyone. High heels, fancy shoes, or crunchy carrots quickly trigger glances of indignation from your fellow students. On the other hand, you have plenty of room to spread out in the three reading rooms, four group rooms, and one newspaper room that you can find here. Each seat is shielded off and has a reading lamp, so you can sit in deep concentration, and you do not even have to put the books back when the darkness falls over CSS, which used to be the old municipal hospital.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: The social science students at CSS, have made sure there are lots of coffee options. Just outside building 4, you will find the student-run Café Kommunen. The coffee is cheap here, but because different students are behind the brewing process, the quality swings dramatically. In addition, CSS has two canteens, the big one and the secret one, where a small cup costs DKK 5 and a large one costs DKK 10. If you’re looking for an adventure, you can see if you can’t find the café in building 35, where the prices are the same, but where you don’t have to line up in the lunch queue.

How to get there: Building 4 is actually one of the easier places to find. If you go into CSS from Øster Farimagsgade street you end up in a courtyard. On the right side, at the back of the yard, you will find a staircase up to building 4. (Tip: The nice campus officers have put up signs outside all the buildings, so you are hopefully just a little less lost)

The prison

This is what it is like: You can quickly overlook the small reading room that is hidden in one of the cellars of the old municipal hospital. It doesn’t make a big show of itself, and for good reason. The prison lives up to its name: The sunlight hardly reaches the heavy iron windows and the lack of oxygen in the room will require extra coffee breaks. On the other hand, there is always space and no distractions in the reading room. In this way, the Prison is good for syllabus reading between lessons, where the good study spots have been taken up already by the early rising (and possessive) students. You really want to get out of here, and this could also be a motivating factor.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: The Café Kommunen offers well-sized and cheap coffee cups for the prison time of your own choosing. But if this calls for more energy than candy bars and caffeine, the juice machines and salads in the canteen in building 5 with so-called street food from large parts of the world (including hot dogs on Fridays) in building 4. If you, for one reason or another, cannot get your daily caffeine fix in one of these places, you will have to go for a hunt among the students’ Friday bars. If you can find them, that is.

How to get there: This is one of the more circumstantial ones. If you come marching into CSS from Øster Farimagsgade street, walk through the first gate (it is called 5A). Then you can, while standing beneath the entrance, at the gate, turn down into a basement door on your left hand. When you have done this, you’ll be in a long concrete corridor, that often smells of damp. You pass some yellow lockers – and continue. At some point the reading room appears on your left hand. We wish you the best of luck.

Frederiksberg Campus

KUB Frederiksberg

This is what it is like: At Frederiksberg Campus, there are not many reading rooms to choose from. In fact the library might be the only one. In addition to KUB Frb., the students can, however, hide in a number of group rooms, or shielded tables/benches in the aula on campus. But the library is cherished by the students. On the Facebook page the place and the staff are praised by several students, and with 300 reading spaces, there are plenty of places to sit down.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: Those with caffeine dependency on KUB Frederiksberg have, the way we reckon it, two choices. You either go to the left corner, at the library entrance (where there is also a sink), otherwise you towards the S-vej street. You will do that at around 17 anyway, but if you are not quite ready to flip open a can yet, you can turn in to the door next to the work of art, instead of going in through the A-vej gate.

How to get there: KUB Frederiksberg is on Dyrlægevej 10, right up to the Landbohøjskolens Have (gardens) and the Frederiksberg Campus. If you have shopping or café needs, you are sitting dangerously close to the centre of Frederikberg and the Frederiksberg Centret shopping mall.

The public libraries

The Black Diamond

This is what it is like: Reading Room North in the Royal Library reminds you of the time before the expensive glass buildings and Apple monitors. In the glow of the emerald green reading lamps, you can almost feel history. Like when Vladimir Lenin sat at space 9 in 1910. You might not be figuring out how to start the October Revolution, but the high ceilings give plenty of play to your thoughts. The diamond – which is built as an extension to the old library – offers just as much beauty in a more modern setting. Here you find both the reading room East, West and E/F West, where the light from Copenhagen’s canals streams in through large glass sections. There is silence in the reading rooms but in the so-called information room there is space for group work. You should be aware of the presence of tourists, however, who want to capture the attractive study environment (and thereby you too) in their selfies.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: The Diamond’s Café Øieblikket serves delicious cortados, but if it is at the end of the month, you can also snap up some coffee that is less oriented towards hipsters. Here you can enjoy your liver paste sandwich or get bounty bars and a coffee from a nice machine.

How to get there: Take the futuristic escalator directly back to the study future. On the 1st floor, you will find Reading Room West and East, which are on the right and left side of the Diamond. The old reading room (East) is further back in the old building.

Studenterhuset café

This is what it is like: The Round Tower glances at you knowingly, while you bury yourself in your books at the Studenterhuset. Perhaps you know the ground floor best as the backdrop to a number of your nights out, but the Studenterhuset also has space for you to immerse yourself in your studies. On the 1st floor, you will find an actual reading room, which consists of a number of four-man tables. An ideal place for group work. In the evening, you should probably reckon on having a festive soundtrack to your curriculum, but during the day the sound level is very reasonable on Købmagergade 52.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: As a UCPH student, you always have a discount on coffee and other beverages at the Studenterhuset. A black pot of coffee costs DKK 40, but you can also get an excellent cappuccino for DKK 26 with your student card. And so you can end the day with a cheap beer on tap.

How to get there: Follow the tourist crowds from Nørreport to the Round Tower, but continue to the next building and turn into the Studenterhuset instead. The narrow spiral staircase leads up to the small reading room.

The main library

This is what it is like: The location could hardly be better for the large library in the inner city. Right next to the pedestrian streets it is the perfect meeting place for study group discussions, if you had a trip planned to the H&M sales further down the road. On the 3rd floor, there are two small reading rooms, where you only have to be quiet in one of them. But throughout the building there are countless reading and study spaces for the curious students. Get used to the smell of freshly baked croissants, and bring your ear buds with you. The main library operates with large, open spaces and is not free of background noise, despite its immersed visiting clientele.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: The associated coffee bar Democratic Coffee is in the competition for the city’s best croissants and pastries. But the Netto supermarket is not many metres away, if you are more into the rye bread.

How to get there: You can just wave to the soldiers outside the Jewish Synagogue before you turn in through the revolving door to the main library. On the third floor you will find the reading room, but otherwise take the escalator a couple of times to find vacant study spaces. There is demand for them, so turn up early.

The Danish National Art Library

This is what it is like: The national research library for visual arts, architecture, art history and museology is right up at the tourist paradise Nyhavn. The library has both a small reading room and a number of lounge areas which are open during the period 11:00-17:30. Here you have access to everything from art archives and books to architectural models and sketchbooks.

How to satisfy your caffeine craving: You’d better fill up your energy stores before you step into the Nyhavn 2 address. Here, at least, there is no coffee, but on weekdays, the Charlottensborg restaurant Apollo offers an extremely insta-friendly lunch.

How to get there: The library shares the building with the art gallery Kunsthal Charlottenborg, located on the other side of the tourist mecca Nyhavn.

But you don’t have to move between tourist groups and crowds every time you want to find a study space. In most cases, you can easily find a secluded spot on your own campus. Then, you won’t have to go far to go to the Friday bar.

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