A couple of months ago, I wrote about how entrepreneurs going through burnout should invest some time at their local library branch. Now, I’m making the argument in favor of treating a library like a coworking space.
This is not an original argument by any means. The Kauffman Foundation recently released a blog post about how public libraries are underappreciated coworking spaces for entrepreneurs. Admittedly, a library may look a little less aesthetically pleasing when stacked up against the interiors of some coworking spaces. Don’t let the rows of aging books on (sometimes) dusty bookshelves fool you. If you’re in a pinch for a creative space to focus on your small business, there’s a plethora of benefits to be found inside libraries.
Many coworking spaces can be found in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Austin. What happens if you don’t live in a major city or one of these states? Most coworking spaces are gradually expanding locations behind ‘hub’ cities and states. However, I’m willing to bet that many small towns won’t get a slice of the pie. Their residents will likely have to drive to the closest coworking location unless… they have a public library nearby! No matter where you live, libraries offer the perk of being infinitely accessible to one and all.
Coworking spaces aren’t free. A typical coworking space comes with a membership fee, often available in tiers where you receive a few more perks if you pay more. Fees may be paid upfront all at once, or in gradual monthly installments. If you want to be a member of a coworking space, you’ll have to pay to get in — which makes sense if you want to take advantage of the incentives.
Membership at a public library, on the other hand, is always free. All you need is a library card. This gives you access to books to check out, tables and chairs to work at, and the ability to utilize available computers, WiFi, and printers. Plus, public libraries often host events that members, and the general public, are invited to attend like courses in professional training programs and book clubs!
Most spaces entrepreneurs choose to work out of will, inevitably, find a way to grind their gears. A coworking space is still a shared space, so there may be times when surrounding individuals make it tough to get work done. A coffee shop may be too noisy. Even working from home can feel less than professional at times.
Libraries offer entrepreneurs a naturally quiet place to work from. It’s universally agreed that we are to be quiet in a space that has books. People are reading here, and reading requires a great deal of concentration. The peace that comes with being at a library can be crucial to the overall success of your business. It gives you a chance to settle in, quiet your thoughts, and focus on the task at hand.
I’m willing to bet that any entrepreneur that chooses to work out of a library will exit feeling pretty accomplished. They didn’t have to spend any money to be there, enjoyed some quiet time, and were able to collect their thoughts and get to work. The next time you’re on the hunt for a space to work from, consider heading over to your public library and exploring its resources.