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“A library is an arsenal of liberty.” - Bob Dylan #quotes #books #amreading #library

“A library is an arsenal of liberty.”

Bob Dylan


My library is an archive of longings.

Susan Sontag
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.



A scholar is just a library’s way of making another library.

Daniel Dennett

The Bar Car

The bar car is no different than any other standalone bar. The people that tend to sit there want to drink and socialize. The people that pass by the bar car wonder what life is like in it. The people that get stranded in the bar car because all other seats are taken keep their earbuds in.

Occasionally, the morning and afternoon trains include the bar car. It’s no surprise that the people that fill it up at the earlier hours use it to enjoy the silence without the beer and without the raucous. During these hours, the bar car might as well be a library car. It’s probably a good idea to offer coffee during this time to create a caffeinated bar experience. A bit of background noise keeps people inspired and more productive.

The roundtable couch-seating arrangement in the bar car contrasts the front facing and backward facing seats of all the other cars. It’s designed to promote relaxation and conversation with people looking face to face as opposed to the back of their chairs. There’s even a community drink holder which typically goes unused, mostly because people feel more talkative when they have a beverage in hand.

The “bar car” name and design ultimately set expectations and dictates behavior. But it can also morph into other uses depending on the time of day. Every place, thing in life shares elasticity and permanence. It is what it isn’t.