Library studying versus café studying

March 1, 2019, 1:00 a.m.

Though it may seem hard to believe, there exists a student population at Stanford that has never set foot inside any of the campus libraries, partially because some people simply find the environment too depressing to work in. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those individuals that can’t even glance at their assignments unless their surroundings are completely silent, for the very depressing-ness and lack of distraction is what allows them to focus on their work. While many agree that cantankerous dormmates or the fatal temptation of a cozy bed mark one’s dorm room as a danger zone when it comes to studying, it is the stark divide between café-dwellers and library-hibernators that might wrench a friendship apart on a cold Tuesday night.

Here is a breakdown of studying in either a library or cafe to help you decide in which environment you’d like to suffer through the next exam study session or essay-writing extravaganza:


  1. The dead silence and sunken body language of your peers suffering around you will guarantee that the most interesting thing to do in the building is to sit down and grind out your work — that is, until you whip out your phone and surrender yourself to social media platforms. A recent Facebook update from The Dodo about a dog learning to hula-hoop might suddenly become a lot more riveting.
  2. There will be no disruptive noises, save for the occasional drop of a pencil or study item that will echo throughout the entire building and turn all heads toward the petrified culprit in blatant displays of contempt and disappointment.
  3. The cool temperatures that trap the entire building in a prickling air of suspense will keep you alive and alert for the entirety of your study session, even if it’s just to blow warm air into your cupped hands so that your fingers remain warm enough to type or write.
  4. The sheer number of books showcasing the intimidating strides in research and creativity made by other people will make you feel bad about yourself for not having accomplished or read enough in your roughly two decades of existence. This might inspire you to get a move on in your assignments and the pursuit of knowledge.
  5. Though this isn’t necessarily a common practice on behalf of students, there is always the option of reading the aforementioned books so as to help you in your studies.


  1. The environment in a café is far less lonely and cold than in a library, and the chatter of the surrounding crowd will embrace you in a blanket of familiarity. To some, however, the noise and easy potential for eavesdropping might become far too distracting.
  2. At an on-campus café, such as CoHo or Coupa, you will undoubtedly encounter a few familiar faces, which brings forth the possibility of striking up a conversation to occupy what was supposed to be a productive study session. One option to evade this sort of circumstance is to appear as busy and productive as you possibly can so that others are less inclined to come disrupt your focus; this process would entail actually doing your work and might lead to more productivity than previously anticipated
  3. It is significantly harder to fall asleep in a café than it is to fall asleep in a library. The overall liveliness, business and noisiness of a cafe is stimulating enough to maintain one’s alertness. Additionally, because people frequent cafés for dates and meet-ups, the air of sociability will leave one slightly less willing to be caught sleeping alone in the corner of the room (though this has never stopped me before).
  4. Cafés sell food and drinks, and for this reason make it much easier for one to stay fueled up for studying. A healthy mix of coffee and sugary pastries can sustain your energy for hours on end. The downside of this, however, is that it entices you to spend money on the meals and beverages that it supplies.

Some have found that the best solution to balancing the pros and cons of either option is to simply switch back and forth between the two. The fact that Green Library is a 30-second walk from Coupa allows for the constant opportunity to revitalize one’s mindset and tackle one’s work from new angles.


Contact Clara Spars at cspars ‘at’


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