Need an accessible off-campus study space? Try GVPL!

Image taken shortly *after* my achilles injury but *before* I learned to despise crutches with a passion.

Back on campus and already feeling like you need a change of study scenery? Want a break from working on campus, but don’t know where in town has accessible study spaces? Read on!

Recently, I tore my achilles tendon – a life event that prevented me from getting to campus, or commuting anywhere outside of a 2km radius from my downtown apartment, for ~3 months.

Without warning, my world (and mobility privilege) shrunk and I was in need of an accessible study/work space close to home.

library courtyard

Aside from being gorgeous, the atrium entrance of the GVPL downtown branch is wheelchair-accessible, complete with outside seating and native plant garden.

For weeks I explored various cafes, restaurants and other downtown venues in search of a quiet, accessible work space. At the end of my research, I’m here to tell you about what I consider the best (and quietest) study spot in town: the Greater Victoria Public Library!

If you’re like me, you’ve likely been forced into libraries as a kid, and maybe even taken out a book or two back in the day, but would never think of them as a desirable place to work. But I’m here to tell you that GVPL libraries offer so much more than just books – and you don’t need a library card to access many of them! If you aren’t utilizing these publicly-funded, accessible workspaces and resources, you’re missing out.

Here are my top reasons why you should make the GVPL your next off-campus study venue:

1. Study all day, without breaking the bank.

If you’re trying to study at a business off-campus, chances are you’ll have to pay at least the cost of a drink or meal.

But every library in the city is free to use, commonly have ample study spots with outlets and desk space, and is (as libraries tend to be) quiet enough to stay focused on work.

2. Libraries are (largely) accessible!

If you need wheelchair access, and/or noise and scent-minimal environments with flexible opening hours, public libraries can be just the ticket.

If you need help locating an accessible desk or other resources in the library, I found it helpful to ask a staff member at the library’s front desk.

There are 12 branches of the GVPL located across the city. If you’re like me and can’t commute for long distances, I recommend searching for the branch nearest you.

An example of a couple types of seating options at the GVPL downtown branch

3. Group study options!*

The downtown GVPL even has bookable study rooms in case you want to tackle a group assignment with friends! Just talk to GVPL staff if you’d like to book a room, for a maximum of 2hrs at a time.

*Unfortunately study rooms are not available at all GVPL branches. I’d recommend the downtown GVPL branch if you’re interested in visiting the library specifically for this option.

4. SO much more than just books

Learning, Research and Tools available online from GVPL. Source: Greater Victoria Library website.

There are tons of learning resources that you have access to as a GVPL member! Apart from books, there are online language learning courses, bookable computers, audiobooks, magazines, and even video games you can borrow.

Want to learn more about these resources without physically visiting a branch? Good news! You can register for GVPL and use many of these features online.

So there you have it – there are 12 publicly-accessible, quiet off-campus study spaces scattered around Victoria. Personally, I think that re-discovering the GVPL was the best part of my 6-month injury. With no-cost flexible study spaces, accessible quiet features, and tons of learning resources, it provided a crucial refuge that I wasn’t able to find elsewhere.

The next time you’re searching for your next off-campus study spot this semester, I recommend trying out a library!

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