The Tab’s guide to workspaces
Where do you meet your deadlines?
There’s one constant to life in Cambridge: you never stop working. Ever.
You already do everything else in your room, so it's time to venture into the great beyond and find somewhere separate to work.
Any student is allowed into any faculty library (except Chemistry for some reason), and so there’s no reason you should just stick to the library of your subject. There are over 200 places in Cambridge to work, from coffee shops to libraries galore.
I’ll be taking you through some of the most popular and my favourites to help you in the search for your perfect location.
The University Library (UL)
This is the big one: the phallic wonder of the Cambridge skyline. The UL has several million books, some of which are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. However, if you’re a scientist, you’ll never need to read a single book, so this library has nothing that the others don’t.
While the prestige of this library is truly magnificent, you could see anyone there. Bumping into your Cindies dance partner from the night before is not something you want to experience when you have an imminently approaching deadline. I once spent twenty minutes hiding behind a bookshelf, desperately trying to avoid an awkward conversation.
Don’t turn up with a backpack filled with textbooks as you have to lock it all up and are only allowed in with a see-through bag, which can be a real faff.
In addition, it’s not open on Sundays, and it’s not exactly in the centre of town. It’s close to Robinson and Clare Memorial Court, but everyone else has a closer faculty library.
The UL, more like the d-UL-l. Venture further, there's a lot more on offer.
Your own College Bar/Cafe
It's also a nice way of working with a more chilled attitude. Libraries can often feel oppressive whereas the café will sometimes have music on or people eating and being relaxed when working can improve productivity.
However, this can be a double-edged sword. A nice chilled vibe can easily become a meeting place for a society, and you soon realise that you’re the only person in the room who’s not involved and doesn’t know how to play Lacrosse. Make sure your visit doesn’t coincide with the meeting of a cult (such as rowing) or else you might find yourself roped into joining.
One thing to note is that it will likely be completely empty in the early morning, so that’s when you can guarantee the best table in the house!
Your College Library
Open twenty-four hours a day and only a short walk from your room, the college library is an easy choice, but is the easiest choice always the best?
Recognising everyone in the library is both a cloud and a silver lining.
The cloud? The number of dirty looks you get given when you check your phone – there’s nothing worse than a library hog. More importantly, be wary of that course-mate who sneakily takes out all the books on the reading list before you’ve even read the list.
But if you’re the sociable kind who works well under pressure, the college library is for you. Watching your friends leave with their newfound freedom will motivate you to finish your essay — maybe quickly rather than well.
A problem for most people is that the choice of books isn't always the best, and if your entire subject needs the same book for a week, it’s probably a good bet that the copy in your library has already been taken out. Snakes.