The Library: An Office For Me, A Playground for My Child

Working from home, hotdesking outside the home and typing away studiously in a an elegant café are all the rage right now in the era of digital nomadism and Dublin’s start-up frenzy. But what if you can’t afford to pay for the office space and the gourmet coffee? Then you go to the library! Yep – the library: the new office that welcomes children and costs you nothing. 
I live in South Dublin and am fortunate to live close to a couple of pretty awesome libraries, both of them pretty brand new. The new Dún Laoghaire library is called a cultural centre and comprises a café, gallery space, an auditorium, a crafts workshop and a children’s library. It is open six days a week, with four late evenings and features mobile computers and room space for meetings, events and activities to be used free by schools, book clubs, community groups, artists. Blackrock library is open late two days a week, now has state-of-the-art IT facilities, a dedicated children’s section, and modern mezzanine study space plus separate reading room – a student’s dream.These are places where you go to study, enjoy a little quiet time, flick through some magazines, work on your laptop, do research, join your friends for a bookish meet-up. Like Starbucks, but without the overpriced gourmet coffee; just free, modern, relaxing oases right in the middle of buzzy town centres and within walking distance from your home.
  • Students going to central Dublin colleges might appreciate not having to trek all the way into town to borrow their books and get some quiet before their exams.
  • Older people enjoy the company of other readers and a free read of the day’s papers in a nice location not far from their home. If you are a writer, talk to them – you will always walk away with a story from that conversation. 
  • Office workers looking for a focus day, freelancers, bloggers, stay-at-home mums who like to do a bit of work on the side can all be found in there. The dlr Lexicon especially is a pretty inspiring workspace. You have the quiet room, computer and laptop facilities the high-speed wi-fi, the library resources and the incredible view to help you with whatever you call work. 
  • Hotdesking places have really mushroomed all over Dublin now that digital out-of-office nomads are not a curious, detestable species anymore. I am one of those, and see plenty of others informally hotdesking in their local library.
  • And, finally: children. Most parents will have a bookcase brimming with books at home, but nothing compares to a visit at the library; seeing the expression on kids’ faces at the sheer volume of books and the impressive interiors where everybody is reading in silence is priceless. If you are a freelancer or a parent who does occasional work, you drop your kid (of a certain age) in whatever workshop is on that day and work away for that precious hour. Get a group of children together for a bookish playdate and you’ve bought yourself a good couple of hours while the parents take turns watching and entertaining the kids. 
  • Even office workers use their lunch break for a well-deserved literary breather over a nice cuppa – without the queues and white noise. See?  Starbucks!

So, yes, I am a big advocate of libraries – as they are now – because they are a life-saver on rainy days and boring days and weekend days and throughout the week; and I don’t need to pay for office space. But if you need a reminder as to why we need libraries, here is a short list of reasons:

  • They cost nothing; they don’t discriminate: even broke geeks can afford the library. Start-up people and struggling writers, take note! 
  • Great place to do your research. Librarians will help you find resources, get the books you want from another library and often point you in the right direction.
  • They’re about the only remaining places that offer free meeting and working space.
  • They entertain your children with free activities and get them to read. While you might do some work…

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