Oberlin Blogs

Fifth-Year Finds

May 25, 2023

Claire O’Brocta ’23

I’ve always loved to explore Oberlin’s campus. During my first year, a friend and I visited as many dorms as we could just for fun, even if we didn’t know anyone who lived there. In my second year, I found a lot of new places when playing campus-wide sardines, a reversed version of hide and seek. You’d think after four years on a small campus with my curious nature that I'd have seen it all, but somehow it took me until my fifth year to check a few places out.


#1: The Art Library

Oberlin has four libraries, and by the start of my fifth year, I’d studied in all but one. I was introduced to the main library right away during an orientation week resource tour, and I even had a class there during my first semester. I went to the Conservatory library a lot during my first year too; it was a convenient place to get work done between music classes and mealtimes in my nearby co-op. The science library became a favorite my second year when I lived in a nearby dorm, and I still think that no other study spot beats the window seats there. One of the moments I’ve felt the most like a “true college student” was sitting in the science library at the end of my sophomore Fall, watching snow peacefully fall through the giant windows onto north quad as I studied for my chemistry final.

I finally made it to the fourth and final library, the art library, when I was taking a media art class last fall. During class one day we had a lecture in the library, which introduced me to the space for the very first time. While there, my class and I had the chance to explore the art library’s extensive collection of mail art, which I definitely recommend checking out. Once my art library ice had broken, I found myself returning there a lot the rest of the semester. It was the perfect place to do a bit of work after my art class ended.


#2: The Conservatory Library Second Floor

While on the topic of libraries, I have another “new” place to mention. As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been going to the Conservatory library since my freshman year, but it took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that not all of the study spaces were on the first floor. I did figure this out before my fifth year, but I never ended up traversing the upstairs until last month. It wasn’t much of anything new, just bookshelves and study carrels as expected, but I’m still glad I checked it out. Arguably, the best part of the Con library’s second floor are its single use bathrooms. Those are highly sought after in college, no matter what building you’re in!


#3: The Geoscience Staircase

The geosciences department is housed in Oberlin’s Carnegie Building. I first stepped foot in Carnegie on a campus tour in 2017, and found myself in the second floor’s Root Room many times over the years for events such as the Exco fair and OSCA’s Iron Chef (if you’re curious about Iron Chef, it’s described here!). Despite all those visits to Carnegie, I hadn’t taken a class there until my fifth year. My geoscience class and lab were both on the second floor, not far from the Root Room, so the territory was familiar. However, my professor’s office was on the fourth floor, so I had an excuse to go up further than I ever had before. When rising above the second floor, the staircase in Carnegie transforms from its unassuming origins into a wondrous display of rocks and gems. Even if you never take a geoscience class, these displays are well worth checking out!


#4: The Arb Wetland

The arboretum, colloquially known as the arb, is a classic place to visit in Oberlin to take walks, go birdwatching, picnic with friends by the reservoir, and spend time in nature. I’ve been visiting the arb since my freshman orientation week, but a large part of it was remodeled into a wetland during my fourth year, making for a new place to explore during my fifth. I took my first stroll on the wetland’s new boardwalk with a friend this spring, and I could immediately tell it would be a favorite visiting place for many Obies to come.

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