Often clients and collaborators are a bit confused by and surprised at how often I travel and still manage to take on work. So I wanted to share my little secret to being portable: libraries (public, at universities or research centers). In the last two months I've taken up residence at the Getty Research Center (literally too beautiful to photograph), and (top to bottom, L - R) Boston Public Library, Cambridge Public Library, Newton Free Library, Weston Public Library, New York Public Library Children's Room (Central Branch), Columbia University's Butler Library and the New York Public Library East Village branch. In New York, if I have an hour or two to spare, I'll locate the closest library and pop in to charge my phone, read a short story and poke around the new releases. In the more distant past, the Oxford University's Duke Humphrey and University of Pennsylvania's Fine Arts Library were refuges.
Often a library is the first place I seek out in any city I pass through, and even the cities I live in. I think there are many reasons why: a feeling that if they aren't used, they'll be closed; the silence; the thoughtful architecture and inspiring small touches (like the quilt in Weston and the miniature figurines and floor plan at Columbia and busts in Newton); the free wireless; vibrancy and the presence of youth and children (in fact the Cambridge branch IS the library for the adjacent Rindge and Latin High School as far as I can tell); opportunity to peruse the shelves; the friendly staff. In some places (Getty) there are organic lunches to be had on the rooftop terrace. In others (Weston) you can reserve an entire private office for yourself. In others still (Boston) it's closer to a museum, with breathtaking Sargent murals. I bring my pen, ink, scanner and even envelopes and settle in for the day. If you are mulling over a road trip or sabbatical but aren't sure of where or how you'll work, it might suddenly seem possible with a local branch nearby.