The holidays are over, the Christmas turkey is gone and it’s time for us to get back to our desks and do something useful. For most students the hardest part of the exam period is not over yet due to social media, holiday magic and all those parties in December. In order to get the most out of every single minute it’s strongly advised to lock yourself in one of Budapest’s moody libraries. Here’s a list of possible choices.
Szabó Ervin Library
The arches, the spacious halls provide a cozy home for knowledge. As you start looking for an empty seat you bump into some of your friends from school right away, but there’s no time to stop to chat this time. If you want to pass the exam, you’re going to have to find a silent corner after all. The task is not easy though; during the exam period everyone decides to come here for some reason, maybe because of the cheap coffee, the tasty cookies and the pretty girls in the smoking room.
The self-service system, based on the catalogue has proved to be very effective. It’s not rare, however, that the books you are looking for are not available for the institution has roughly 100 000 registered members. In this case another 57 Ervin Szabó libraries’ complete selection is there to help you out, of course only if you are willing to take the bus and travel a little bit. Besides everything there’s also a very useful audio-visual archive and audio book collection for those who want to learn more. The membership card for a year is 5400 HUF for adults and 2700 HUF for students.
Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE)
The oldest university in the country is not only famous for its education but also for its remarkable collection of books. Only in its central library there are more than 1.5 million books professionally categorized and, at request, handed over to you for learning purposes. Of course, you don’t have to be an ELTE student if you want to register for a membership card, however those who brag with their ELTE student ID start with significant advantages, for example, their membership card can be bought for 0 HUF while for those who come from another university have to pay 1500 HUF.
The best thing about the system here is that the catalogue sweeps through all the smaller ELTE libraries so you don’t have to visit every single institututions one by one. The only thing that casts a shadow on the joy the search engine provides is that the membership rules are different in every other ELTE library. In some of cases you can only register if you happen to be a student of the department. According to locals, the best thing about the University Library is that it’s easy to make friends and fall in love. When you tired eyes start to stray, it’s lucky they find relief on someone who might even smile back.
National Széchényi Library
The nation’s library, of course, dwells in the Castle. This is not really the place where you can just drop by to pick up some books; you have to show some respect and sacrifice a whole 8-hour shift, because here it’s not an option to rent. In Széchenyi Library you can read everything locally if you are willing to do it according to all the strict rules of the house: for example you can’t have anything on you that can disturb others including, voice recorders, cameras, cell phones, radios, TVs, copy machines...etc. This is partly good because it’s not possible to keep your smart phone on, so distraction can attack you from there. Also it’s important to keep in mind that visitors are not allowed to turn pages after licking their fingers, and it’s strictly forbidden to use books as tablets.
However, if you are willing to bow before the law, you can find remarkable treasures on the shelves for this library must have everything that has ever been published with more than 50 copies. Also it’s hard to find a place with a more relaxing environment; the silence is so intense here that it’s almost scary. The membership card costs 6500 HUF for adults and 3500 HUF for students.
Ludwig Múzeum Shop
Just like every serious museum, Ludwig also has its own library but probably this one is more student-friendly than others. The pieces of the collection, available since 2005, are not rentable but for 400 HUF (half price for students) anything can be read, copied, photographed and amazed at. Ludwig Library’s specialty is contemporary Hungarian and universal art from 1945 until today supported by magazines and cataloges of exhibitions and bienales. Of course, not only artists can find what they want here, for the shelves are full of books about photography, media and design matters while the atmosphere is trendy, silent and very cozy.
Not only for future hackers – BME- OMIKK
Address: 11th district. Budafoki út 4-6.
Open: Monday-Friday: 8-20, Exam period: 8-22
This library is a paradise for those who are good at physics and play World of Warcraft but because of its versatility it’s also suitable for art or history students. Besides all the special technology documents BME- OMIKK provides students with a big selection of literature, sociology, history and foreign language books. On the shelves, a very well organized topic-based system helps students find what they want faster than ever, plus they can read them until 10PM during exam period in a relaxing, calm environment. A membership card for 6 months is 3300 HUF without BME student ID.