Places to Study at JMU When the Library is Too Crowded

By Lauren Haan on January 12, 2018

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find a spot in the library during prime study hours. We’ve all been there, literally, desperately walking up, down and all around the stairwells and floors of Carrier, ECL, and SSC trying to find an open room, table, or comfy chair where you can attempt to focus on your school work. If you’re lucky, you might snag a good seat as someone is leaving, but at best, you typically have settle for the floor or a comfy chair where you juggle your laptop on one leg and your notebook on the other. As we begin this new semester, settle into new routines and prepare for success, it will be worth your while to check out some alternate study spots.



Main Campus

While Main Campus offers more study locations than East Campus, it can be nearly impossible to find a good place to sit in the obvious study hotspots. Whenever I am struggling to find a place to get work done in Carrier Library or the Student Success Center, I like to go to the following buildings:

Top Dog and P.C. Dukes

When it’s not lunchtime, Top Dog and P.C. Dukes are actually great alternatives because both have Wi-Fi, plenty of tables, and are virtually empty other times of the day. Also, when lunch or dinner does roll around, you’re already there and have a table where friends can meet you!

Madison Union and Taylor Down Under

Another location that many students don’t utilize as much as they should is Madison Union and Taylor Down Under (TDU). I will admit that the confusing layout of the building can be intimidating; however if you ever have some free time, I recommend checking it out; you won’t be sorry! Throughout the building there are hidden study nooks and a variety of tables, chairs, and lounges that normally aren’t too crowded.

East Campus


It’s no secret that most peoples’ go-to place to study on East Campus is the East Campus Library (Rose Library), aka ECL. No matter the time of day, I always struggle to find seating there; now, I don’t even bother wasting my time and I just go straight to Festival. There are a variety of quiet places to sit throughout the building that are normally always open.

Memorial Hall

Although slightly out of the way, I love studying in Memorial Hall because no matter the time of day, there is always parking, and open seats throughout the building as well. Memorial offers a library atmosphere in the ETMC as well as comfy chairs throughout and plenty of tables and chairs in the Bistro.


If you live off-campus, you most likely know about the lack of parking spaces for commuters during the day. Whenever I am trying to get work done at home, but can’t concentrate, and don’t want to stress over finding a parking spot closer than a half mile uphill from where I need to be, I typically opt for one of these off-campus alternatives. There are plenty of off-campus study places around time that are worth checking out!

Coffee Shops

Harrisonburg has some of the best local coffee shops that I have ever been to. They are conveniently located not too far from campus and offer a variety of atmospheres that will suit anyone’s preferences. My personal favorites are Greenberry’s Coffee Co., which is basically on campus now that JMU is expanding down Grace St, and Shenandoah Joe’s as well as Black Sheep.


I’ll admit that going to a bookstore to do homework is a little unconventional, but hear me out: for that reason, there aren’t many people that go there to do work. Bookstores are a great place to get schoolwork done because it is an academic environment, they are generally quiet with chairs throughout, and many have their own coffee shops with tables. In Harrisonburg, Barnes & Noble is located right off of East Campus and there is a Books-A-Million in the Valley Mall.

Hi, my name is Lauren and I am a senior at James Madison University. I love good food, the outdoors and my one year-old pup!

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