Laptop in tow, bag packed with pens and notebook, earphones ready to butt out distractions, on my way to hunker down and get some solid studying in. Except that the LSE library is teeming with students doing the same thing, and I don’t feel like stalking the next person to pack up and head out of his or her carrel. There are three tables at the Garrick with an outlet close enough to plug in my laptop and they’re taken. My old favourite, the Shah Library, is not conducive to study which requires note taking. If I go to my department’s common room I’m much less likely to accomplish my set-out tasks, albeit there’s a good chance the discussion will at some point mention mediatization or Said’s Other or my favourite of time-space distanciation, but none are getting me closer to finishing the work I had planned for the day. And if I head home, there is a higher chance I will stream the latest episode of HIMYM or Downton Abbey than do my work.
Where to go? Where to turn? Where to study?
Enter study hot spots of London. I’m always on the look out for a solid study space, whether it be library, coffee shop, or park bench. And recently, I’ve become infatuated with:
The British Library. Tagline "Explore the world's knowledge." I <3 libraries.
In my quest for an appropriate study loca, and my need for a book not available in the LSE lib, I am now a proud card carrying member of the Reading Rooms at the British Library (check that off the list). The British Library is a short double-decker ride away from LSE. Reading Room membership grants you access to the Brit Lib collection, which also means you get to read the goods in one of the Reading Rooms as you can’t check them out. A combination of the onus I feel from the name of the room paired with being surrounded by people pouring over texts much larger and older-looking than mine, means that when I’m in a Reading Room I use the wifi to do research, and not of the Facebook sort.
Before your first visit, you can register for a Reader Pass online and then complete the registration process upon arrival. Registering online before you go is helpful because it enables you to also request the books you’d like to see before heading to the library. This is a time-saver as books stored in the library can take 70 minutes to get to you, and books stored outside of the library 48 hours. Thus, it’s helpful to request your material beforehand for a particular Brit Lib study day. If you don’t register beforehand (like yours truly) you complete the process upon arrival, just remember to bring with you a bill / bank statement with your current address, photo ID, and the information of a book from the library you want to view. Once you have your card, you head to the lockers downstairs to deposit your bag and jacket, and are provided with a clear bag to take in your laptop, notebook, pencil (no pens allowed), or whatever you need for effective study. In subsequent visits, as long as you’re in possession of your RP, you can venture into any Reading Room and study away to your mind’s content. Click here for how to obtain a Reader Pass.
The British Library also has spots for studiers outside of the Reading Rooms in the different cafe or seating areas. Depending on the time of day, these can be quite busy, but may just suit your study needs.
Other study spots that have been recommended to me include the BFI and the Tate Modern. Great outdoor reading locations include the table and chairs outside Somerset House and the benches along South Bank, especially when paired with a coffee from an outdoor vendor.
Have a suggestion for a great study space? Tweet us @LSESU or @WandaOBrien.