Technically, I’ve only visited one actual co-working location so far and the rest have been libraries. You won’t find libraries on a list of co-working spaces but I wanted to include them into my experiment for several reasons. You can get work done and get an Internet connection too. Although there are signs that say no loud music, no cell phones and no food I have seen all of these rules broken. They aren’t the ideal place to make as your “temporary” away from home office space but for some it’s all that they can afford.
I had an interesting conversation the other day with an older woman who shared that actual sentiment. She now finds herself out of work and temporary homeless because of the economy. Despite all of that she was still in good spirits because she was determined to find her way again and she goes to the library to look for a job. However, this particular day the WiFi was acting crazy, constantly going out or having to be rebooted. So when she expressed her feelings about how it’s ashamed that the Internet going out is a regular occurrence especially when for some this is all they have, it got me thinking.
The New York City library system can never completely shut down. Too many people rely on them from using the computers, looking for a job or taking classes to learn everything from English to how to use Microsoft Office. I have notice that there’s two main groups who us these facilities – the average person and then the shoestring budget entrepreneur. For the shoestring budget entrepreneur, there have been some complainants and there are pretty consistent across the board.
5 things I have learns so far doing Operation Cowork at libraries
#1 – Libraries are invaluable. Far from a traditional co-working location but you get free WiFi, access to a bathroom, tons of research materials at your fingertips. Although sometimes that free WiFi can suck and go down at any moment.
#2 – If you have your own laptop, walk with an extra battery or two. Outlets are very scarce and most of the times they are being used to charge up cell phones. You may want to invest in an extension cord or powerstrip but be prepared to share. Although, some people don’t ask, they just plug in their stuff without batting an eyelash.
#3 – Adults are louder and ruder than kids. Don’t forget your patience and a good pair of headphones.
#4 – If you don’t have a laptop of your own you can use one from the library. You must have a valid Brooklyn library card and a photo id to check one out. Although you cannot take them outside building (or inside the bathroom) you can use them for up to two hours. However, not all Brooklyn libraries provid this service. The following branches do: Brownsville, Bushwish, DeKalb, Macon, Marcy, Saratoga, Stone Ave and Washington. You cannot save to the laptop so you need to walk with a flash drive or use Google Docs.
#5 – Make a few friends or bring a friend to work with. The staff at the library is not responsible for your belongings. I watch people leave not only the library laptop unattended (which is against the rules) but also their personal laptop on the table and walked away. I guess they feel comfortable doing so but I won’t.
I have three more libraries on my list to visit before I make my way to an actual co-working location and outdoor cafes (I can’t wait for Spring).