A Business Traveler’s Guide to Working at the Library

If you’re a business traveler you understand that working out of hotels, the car, and coffee shops can be challenging. Between sending emails from a poorly-lit hotel room with sluggish wifi, balancing your laptop between your knees and the steering wheel, and making business calls over the roar of milk steamers, working on the road can be less-than-ideal.

But there’s an alternative.

Public libraries offer a well-lit, quiet workspace with free access to wifi, meeting rooms, reference librarians and more. And public libraries can be found all over the place, so locating your temporary workspace is as easy as finding the nearest library branch. Here’s a business traveler’s guide to working at the library.

Check the Library Hours

Most libraries don’t keep 9-to-5 hours. Some of them open later than 9 a.m., but they may stay open well past 5 p.m. Check library hours before you go so you don’t get caught trying to connect to wifi from outside a closed branch or having to unexpectedly move a client meeting to another time or location.

Use Public Wifi Wisely

Most libraries, like many coffee shops, offer public wifi. Take precautions to protect yourself from having your information compromised. Here are some tips for using public wifi:

  • Use a virtual private network (VPN)
  • Don’t share sensitive data or information
  • Turn off file-sharing options on your computer
  • Install browser extension that protect your privacy
  • Use https, rather than http, whenever possible
  • Use your own wifi via your smartphone or mobile hotspot

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Utilize Reference Librarians

Reference librarians are underutilized library superheroes. They can answer questions, help you find data and information, direct you to local resources and make sure all your business-related documents and to-dos are in order. Utilize these fantastic resources to streamline and supercharge your business.

Meeting Rooms

Some library branches have meeting rooms you can reserve and use for client meetings. This is a fantastic feature that can elevate you from that person who takes client meetings in noisy coffee shops to that smart pro who uses a quiet, professional, easy-to-access space for meetings.

You may need to have a local library card or a librarian’s help in accessing a library meeting room and you’ll likely need to reserve it in advance. Find out how to reserve the room and give yourself plenty of time to get set-up and comfortable in the space before your client arrives.

Try Library Coworking

A growing number of library branches offer coworking areas, where freelancers, independent professionals, remote workers and creatives all work independently, together. Coworking is a fun, easy way to make connections, tap into the local freelance and entrepreneurial scenes, meet future collaborators and socialize with like-minded professionals.

Take Your Calls Outside

At the risk of stating the obvious, unless you’re in a dedicated library space that allows for mobile phone calls, take your business calls outside or in a soundproof meeting room.

Take Advantage of the Quiet

If you find it tricky to focus in noisy spaces, such as coffee shops, you’ll find working in the library to be a welcome change. You’ll have increased focus and may find that you’re more productive.

Find Out About Business Amenities

Many libraries offer printing, scanning and copying at a minimal cost. They may also have a whiteboard, a room with a projector, a conference area and more. Find out what business amenities exist in the library branch and how you can best use them to further your own work.

Check the Local Happenings

Libraries are local hubs for various community groups, including entrepreneurs, business owners and networking organizations. Check the local library event listings to see if there are any happenings, groups or meetups you’d like to attend while in town.

Public libraries can be a business traveler’s best friend when it comes to productivity, convenience and comfort. Next time you’re on the road, instead of heading to the nearest coffee shop, go to the local library instead.


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