About Undergraduate Library Services


Welcome to Columbia and especially to the Libraries! Columbia University Libraries/Information Services (CUL/IS) is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 12 million volumes, over 160,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 21 libraries and various academic technology centers, including affiliates. The libraries support the instructional and research information needs of the University.

Butler Library is the largest of the 21 libraries at Columbia and its affiliated institutions, and the one most heavily used by first-year students, especially those in Columbia College and SEAS.  Undergraduates may use any library on campus and also the libraries of Columbia's affiliated institutions, Barnard College and Teachers College.

Butler Reserves Collection

Located in 208 Butler on the entry level, Butler Reserves is a collection of books and articles selected by faculty to support their current course teaching. Butler Reserves covers most undergraduate classes, as well as graduate classes in history and humanities. For example, reserve readings for courses in the Core Curriculum (e.g., Contemporary Civilization, Literature Humanities) are available in Butler Reserves.

Reserve materials usually circulate for two hours (or overnight after 6 p.m.) Use CLIO's Course Reserves tab or the Library Reserves button in CourseWorks to find reserves readings for your classes.

The Philip L. Milstein Family College Library

The interdisciplinary undergraduate collection is housed in the Philip L. Milstein Family College Library in Butler Library. The collection is shelved in the 24/7 reading rooms on the second, third, and fourth floors. With approximately 50,000 volumes, the collection is especially strong in history, literature, and the social sciences supporting the undergrduate curricula in Columbia College, General Studies, and to a limited extent, SEAS.

Undergraduate students may check out Milstein books for semester loan. Books may be checked out from the Butler Reserves Desk (2nd floor) or Circulation Desk (3rd floor).

24-Hour Reading Rooms & Computer Lab

The Milstein Library provides 24-hour study areas and a CUIT computer lab, in 213 Butler, during the fall and spring semesters. These reading rooms also provide power/data connections for laptop users and wireless access. A valid CUID is required to enter the library.

Butler Library Reference Services

The Butler Reference Desk in room 301 is the place to go for face-to-face assistance in finding answers to course-related research or general questions and for help in using print and electronic resources in CLIO and Library databases. The reference room has biographies, bibliographies, indexes, encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, gazetteers and other reference works in many languages.

Other Library Services

Other library services and collections will become familiar as you go through the academic year, including:

We invite you to explore the library resources available to you.  There are staff members at service desks throughout the libraries to assist you and provide you with more information.

Orientation & Library Instruction

Orientation tours are offered by many of the libraries in the early part of the fall semester to help new students learn their way around. The new student orientation program (NSOP) includes an introduction to the Libraries. Later in the school year, undergraduates enrolled in University Writing complete a library assignment that includes additional instruction in library research skills. The Libraries offer a variety of instructional workshops throughout the year on using specialized software and other resources for research.  

Your undergraduate years will offer an exciting learning experience, and we look forward to working with you to make the most of the libraries' services and collections.