Productivity & Work

Are coffee shops better work places than libraries?

This may be hard to believe but libraries actually stymie creativity. Libraries are too quiet. Studies show that we need a little ambient noise to keep us inspired and working. JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series in coffee shops, not a library. Sometimes excess silence is enough to silence the mind.

Libraries also feel a bit like study jail. There are books and free wifi but there’s also the smell of dust and cubicles that preempt collaboration. Meanwhile, coffee shops feel more open. As Tom Standage points out, coffee shops were the original social networks, a place where people exchanged ideas and networked. More than 80% of Americans live 20 miles within a Starbucks. There’s home, there’s the office, and then there’s Starbucks where you can work and play with ideas and see what sticks.

Work and coffee go hand in hand. Caffeine is scientifically proven to speed up the neurotransmitter dopamine, increasing the connectivity between thoughts. And who can resist that smell of coffee beans, even if you’re not a coffee drinker.

The ideal place to work might be Barnes and Noble because it combines the inspiration of books with the sound of coffee machines and people. But I’ve got a feeling this loved environment is on its way out of business.

Do you prefer to work in a library or coffee shop? Send me a tweet and let me know.


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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.