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MIT and the admissions office will be closed November 24–25 for Thanksgiving break, and will open on November 28.

MIT student blogger Snively '11

Barker Engineering Library by Snively '11

Where sound goes to die.

What I’ve noticed is that being an Admissions Blogger has turned me into a perpetual tourist. That’s not so bad, I guess, because I fit right in here. Not a day goes by when I am not absorbed by a mass of tourists with cameras, taking pictures of the most random, well, crap, that I’ve ever seen. Pictures that I’ve seen taken include pictures of a wall, of a bulletin board, of a garbage can, of a ceiling, of a vent, and of a door. I’m all for taking pictures, even having taken many stupid ones myself (especially during CPW) but sometimes it gets ridiculous. When I’m late to class because 30 people are taking a picture of a paper tree in lobby 10 then I start to get angry. Be smart, take a picture of the tree when people aren’t trying to get to class.

I now try to be more refined in my photography, taking pictures of things that matter and of things that not everybody gets to see. So, without further delay, I’d like to talk to you about the Barker Engineering Library, where sound goes to die.

MIT has this dome

It’s a famous dome, and if you’ve never heard of it then do a google search, I don’t have quite enough time to tell you everything about it. Anyway, inside this dome is a library, known as the Barker Engineering Library. It’s one of MIT’s several libraries and it is one of the more frequented. Funnily enough, it is not normally frequented because people need books. I know I’ve never gone there for books.

I go there because it’s a great place to study. The reading room in the library is the inside of the dome, meaning it’s round and very open. It is encircled by study-desk-things that are perfect for setting up shop and spending several hours buried in differential equations. That’s what I did yesterday, and this is what you could have seen if you had visited:

Here’s a view along the wall of the reading room, you can see how the desks are tucked away and private (that brown thing to the right isn’t a desk, nor is the table. There’s a girl sitting at one of the desks and then one farther away up against the wall).

On a quick side note, I’ve noticed that a lot of people on tours love to take pictures inside MIT’s other dome in lobby 7. I’ve always assumed that those pictures would be pretty boring and stupid but have never actually taken the opportunity to test my hypothesis. For everybody out there who is planning on visiting MIT, I have gone ahead and taken a picture of the inside of a dome for you.

See? Ugly, and it doesn’t even look like a dome. Do yourself a favor and utilize those 2.4 megabytes of camera space by taking a picture of a neat mural or the Stata Center.

I mentioned that the Barker Engineering Library is where sound goes to die and I wasn’t joking. It is dead silent in there. If you accidentally make a noise then you are shunned and scorned forever. The only way I can really describe how quiet this library is is to let you listen. This is what the Barker Engineering Library sounds like:

Click for MP3, 320kb

Because of this silence, and the obviously dim lights, the Barker Engineering Library takes on a whole new use for students. No longer is it a place to read or study but instead a place to nap. This silent and dimly lit library is home to the most comfortable chairs ever. Add this to the perpetually warm environment and you have an instant KO. The library staff realizes this and appreciates it. They don’t mind if you sleep there, sometimes even encouraging it if it makes you be quiet. The Barker Engineering Library is even one of the stops on the official MIT Napping Tour of Campus that happens during Orientation. On my visit yesterday there were two individuals taking advantages of the napping possibilities.

They were still there when I left and will probably be woken up by the nice lady that comes around at closing time to tap everybody on the shoulder.

So that’s Barker. If you ever need an excellent place to nap, you now know where to go.

32 responses to “Barker Engineering Library”

  1. cool blog Snively, Now I don’t have to take these pics when i visit in a few weeks. smile

  2. Hyun Jin says:

    Oops, I remember taking a picture of the inside of the dome..

    Shame on me raspberry

  3. Anonymous says:

    quiet was spelled ‘quite’

  4. Kevin Xu says:

    That is seriously awesome. No matter where I go there is not a decent place to study/nap but Barker sounds quite ideal

  5. EV says:

    Hi Snively, great post as always. Now, as an international (by MiT means a “stupid” one as well), I’m kinda curious on whats going on at the admissions office right now. Can’t somebody over there post a few pictures and tell us all whats going on atm?

    perhaps an idea for a new ziGzag?

  6. job '12 says:

    yay, a sleeping place. so what is your room for? (studying?) (like…people go to study areas to sleep, and go to their dorms to study?)

  7. Paul says:

    The “paper tree” in Lobby 10 is part of the final project for an IAP class on Martin Luther King. It’s actually called the Bigotree, and the paper leaves hanging off of it are real accounts of discrimination experienced by actual MIT students. In my opinion it’s pretty neat – it’s almost a hack, but not quite.

    And anyway, if the main level of the Infinite is too crowded, you can always go through the tunnels instead. wink

  8. Lauren '12 says:

    Ahh! I can’t believe you blogged about this. Barker is my favorite place to go when I invade MIT to find books/study/hang out awkwardly/pretend to be a student. I actually used to go to Hayden, but then I discovered Barker a few weeks ago. I spent ~2 weeks of afternoons at a random desk on floor 7? (I think) near the fluid dynamics books. Then I discovered the reading room. Yes, I totally agree about sound going there to die. I felt really loud when I unzipped my backpack, haha.

    Anyway, very awesome post- I love libraries! The Barker Engineering Library actually made me ponder switching from math to an engineering major, as the engineering library is cooler than the science library, but after all I decided to stay with math grin. Good thing mathematicians can hang out in the engineering library too :-D.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I took pictures of 3-107 and 3-108 XP
    oh … and inside columns of Lobby 7.
    The tour never led us to see the inside of the dome! grr! no fair.

    I tried so hard to hear something from that mp3 clip that my ear started hurting afterwards… hehe

    I check MIT blogs basically everyday. Having someone like you who updates so often leaves me rarely disappointed because I always end up finding new posts!! THANK YOU FOR BLOGGING!

  10. maithreyi says:

    haha. i love your posts! i am a sophomore who’s been reading these blogs for a couple of months and now i feel like commenting smile
    1.) we live near boston, but anytime we go someplace with a dome or something interesting in the architecture, my parents take pictures like tourists.
    2.) actually, a few weeks ago i was at a competition at MIT, and we past the stata center. i wouldn’t let my mom walk without taking a picture. it’s such a cool building.
    3.) you’re just awesome! like anonymous says, it’s great that you blog often :D

  11. Steph says:

    That library is fantastic. I wish my library had some comfortable chairs for napping. :(

  12. Fred says:

    You blog too often !

  13. Tanmay says:

    That mp3 has got absolutely nothing in it. Empty! If it’s really that quite out there, then it’s the world’s quietest place!

    Seeing the lighting arrangement, I get a feeling as if it’s a personal quarter on Enterprise! Very futuristic.Getting buried under differential equations (or whatever else is good) is unarguably the best idea. Wow! grin

  14. Snively says:

    Oooo, you picked a bad time. I’m in the middle of an 18.03 PSET, meaning I’m bitter, and so I’m going to give you a response like this:

    Your Mom.

    I hope you’re happy, because I know I am. Now, back to PSETing. IHTFPSET.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What? No Simon and Garfunkel reference?

    “…and no one dared disturb the sound of silence.”

  16. carmen says:

    wow….that’s my kind of library, a good place to take a nap =). thanks for blogging…

    btw I have been hearing this tunnel thing. is it true that there is a tunnel at mit? I have tried googling for it, and all i have found is a map. Is that map even legit? If there is a tunnel how big is it?

  17. Paul says:

    carmen – The map you found is probably legitimate; there’s one here as well. MIT doesn’t have just one tunnel, it has an entire network of them, connecting virtually all of the main academic buildings.

    Basically, picture a standard basement. Then fill that basement with labs, computer clusters, vending machines, and tons of other random things…then join that basement to about twenty other similar basements…and you have a close approximation of MIT’s tunnels.

  18. Libin Daniel says:

    A library to take a Snively, this is awesome man.
    Waiting for much more hilarious posts from you. Thank You.

  19. Tanmay says:

    hmmm… tunnels can be very useful in a place like Cambridge, where the temperatures are often quite low (I guess yesterday’s min. was -4C? ) and you would not want to go outside.

  20. Anion says:

    Funny that a library that’s named ‘BARKER’ can be soooo quiet.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hahaha I love the random links you put in your blogs.

  22. Hawkins says:

    Sweet. There’s a napping tour?! Yay! That’s perfect for my experiment… =)

  23. asm says:

    Snively, your wit rocks my socks. ^_^

    And I think the whole dome picture craze is just general tourism mentality. Whenever there’s a tour of a dome (particularly ones that belong to the federal government), everyone pulls out their camera and goes, “Hey, I’m inside a dome! I gotta take a picture of this!” (I hope I’m not being too much like Captain Obvious here…)

    Also, is that a Learning Python book I see? O’Reilly ftw!

  24. Snively says:

    Thanks, fixed it. I was in a rush to get to class and didn’t have time to properly edit this entry.

    If they’ll let me snoop around and take pictures I’d be happy to do a quick bit on the admissions process thus far. Normally Matt or Ben write entries like that but maybe it’d be neat to have a 3rd party do it? As for the ZigZag, I haven’t seen one of those in ages, bug Matt about that.

    Thanks! I love blogging, let’s see if I can keep up this pace.

    Yep, that’s an O’Reilly Python book. I’ve decided to teach myself Python (on a whim) so I carry it around and read it when I have a chance.

  25. Shannon '12 says:

    I had no idea that there was a library in there- that’s awesome. Considering I’m incapable of moving quietly, though, my entering it could potentially be disastrous.

    @Hawkins- Let me know how that sleep experiment works out. That could be awesome if you get it to work, but those first few weeks are going to suck.

  26. Snively says:

    Oop, big tour group just came through. No pictures of the dome, I’m so proud of you all!

  27. soaham says:

    my kinda place… Nothing like falling asleep on some crunchy bits of classical mechanics…
    p.s. do you have some place where one takes just anything apart, and tries to see how it works (not to mention try to put it back again) ? then i can be sure god lives at MIT…

  28. Collin says:

    what? no pictures of the Moebius Strip?

    did I spell that right?

  29. Haha, look at the Barker.mp3 file smile

    alexis @ ws2 ~ $ mpg123 -w barker.wav Barker.mp3
    alexis @ ws2 ~ $ hexdump -s 0x02d -C barker.wav
    0000002d 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 |…………….|
    alexis @ ws2 ~ $

    It’s only filled with 0x00 from 0x00002d to 0x35ee2b. :D (0x0 to 0x2d are RIFF headers).

    Here, FLAC would have a much better compression ratio (on this file, 308:1 for FLAC and 11:1 for MP3).

  30. Snively says:

    Fail guys! Somebody just took a picture of the dome!

  31. NikolRU says:

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    Наши квалифицированные менеджеры подберут вам наиболее подходящий вариант.