Written by Hanna Marie Roseen
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Many people are drawn to Suzzallo for its beautiful reading room. It is indeed wonderful and is honestly the visual highlight of the library. The rest of the library is rather utilitarian and not much to look at compared to the entrance and the reading room.
Even as a student who is no stranger to the library, I still get confused about its layout when searching for a book. See, Suzzallo is part of the Suzzallo-Allen library, two different but connected buildings that house a continuous collection of books. However, the work UW Libraries does is great, and parts of this are seen elsewhere in the library. Perhaps not as pretty as the reading room, they are still interesting, like the research commons.
Also housed in these libraries is the UW Special Collections. They are located in the basement of Allen Library. While you should make an appointment if you wish to peruse certain records, there is often an exhibit in the lobby of Special Collections. The exhibits are related to Seattle and Washington history. One of the archives within Special Collections is the Law Archives of Washington, whose exhibits are some of my favorite. They center on the history of labor, labor unions, strikes, and related events in Washington.
On nearly any day you enter this library students are quietly working. Some of the most noise comes from the Starbucks at the Suzzallo Entrance, somewhere you do not want to get in line before class is scheduled to start but is otherwise a good place for a snack or study – there is plenty of seating. I always walk quietly through the stacks and study pockets, keeping an eye of for odd or funny titled books.