What to Bring to a Library Study Session

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Last Updated on February 11, 2024 by Alexandra Markin

Looking for a change of scene from studying at home? Libraries offer a quiet, non-disruptive place for you to get ahead in your studies.

As an online business management graduate, I’ve spent countless hours studying in public libraries around the world.

I’ve learned through trial and error what to bring, what not to bring, spilled coffee on my laptop, had my cut-up fruit snack leak in my bag and forgot to pack the most critical library study essentials.

Learn from my years of experience and use this as a master list of what to bring to a library study session.

The Complete List of What to Bring to a Library Study Session

One of the benefits of being an online student is that you can study almost anywhere.

Not sure what to bring? Although every item on this list may not apply to you, use this as a packing list template of library study essentials.

1. Laptop

A laptop is the gateway to learning for online students, so don’t forget it!

BONUS TIP: Make sure your laptop is fully charged before you leave the house so you aren’t scrambling to plug it in as soon as you arrive at the library.

2. Your VPN Connection

Plan on using your laptop for your study session? Before you open ANY webpages or documents linked to the cloud, the first thing you need to do after connecting to the library’s free Wi-Fi is connect to your VPN.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN is a service that protects your privacy and browsing activity online.

Online security is now your first line of defence. Every online student should be using a VPN.

Read the full post here: Do I need a VPN As An Online Student?

What a NordVPN connection looks like on a laptop.

What Personal Information Is At Risk When Using Library Public Wi-Fi?

  • Your email login.
  • Your banking information.
  • Your personal photos and videos.
  • Your home address.
  • Your stored credit card information – the one you saved in your browser to make online purchasing faster.

Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi is the most unsafe connection to use, and it’s what most libraries offer.

Using public Wi-Fi puts you at a much higher risk for identify theft. There is no password on public Wi-Fi connections. Absolutely anyone can access them, including hackers from anywhere in the world.

You’re busy taking online courses and studying for exams – you don’t need the added stress of dealing with stolen personal information.

Don’t have a VPN? Take the time and get a subscription today to mitigate the risk of using the internet for your studies.

I’ve been using NordVPN for years and highly recommend their service. Sign up for NordVPN here.

Bring your VPN connection to every library study session so you can concentrate on your studies knowing your online privacy is protected.

3. A Bag Dedicated for Study Sessions

One of the best ways to stay organized when you’re studying is to have a dedicated bag for study sessions. Whether it’s a shoulder bag or backpack, invest in a high-quality bag that works for you. A degree takes a few years to complete, so a quality bag will last until you have those little letters to put behind your name.

4. Chargers For All Your Electronic Devices

It’s the worst when you’re having a super productive study session and your battery dies, and you realize you forgot your charger.

Bring the charger for your laptop, earbuds, iPad, phone and any other electronic device you need for your study session.

BONUS TIP: If you often study outside your home, buy spares of each charger you need and leave them in your bag. You won’t ever forget them and can just grab your bag and go. You’ll never be out of power again.

5. Headphones

You’ll need these for VideoNotes, audio lectures or listening to music while you study. If you prefer wireless earbuds, always carry a corded backup in case of Bluetooth connection or power issues.

I love my Apple AirPods (I have several pairs!) because they fit really well in my ears. If you’re on a bit more of a budget, there are more affordable and good quality earbuds similar to the AirPods.

BONUS TIP: Always charge wireless earbuds before you leave the house.

6. Textbooks & Reference Books

If the course you’re studying has a physical textbook, don’t forget to bring it along as well as any reference books or student study guides.

7. A Portable Book Stand

A book stand has been a game changer for the way I take notes. No more straining my neck or hunching over the desk trying to take notes from a textbook.

There are some great lightweight and portable options that are prefect to bring with you to a library study session.

8. Notebooks or Extra Note Paper

If you prefer to take notes by hand, bring your notebook.

If you take notes on loose-leaf lined paper (or graph paper for mathematics courses) don’t forget to bring lots of extra paper! I once forgot to bring more graph paper so I couldn’t write anymore notes, making my entire study trip to the library pretty much useless.

9. Planner or Bullet Journal

You’ll need your planner or bullet journal so you can record what you accomplished at the end of your study session.

There’s nothing more motivating than updating your bullet journal study tracker after a productive study session!

Related Posts:

Updating my bullet journal study tracker using the Leuchtturm1917 Dotted Notebook.

10. Writing Utensils and Accessories

Why does it seem like we need so many writing utensils and accessories to study these days? Oh right – because we do!

  • Pens
  • Regular/drafting/sketching pencil and sharpener
  • Mechanical pencil and extra lead
  • Eraser
  • Highlighters
  • Mini ruler
  • Page flags
  • Post-It notes
  • Bookmarks
  • Index cards (for flashcards)
  • Pencil case

If you colour code your notes, check you have the necessary colours. You don’t need to bring your ENTIRE collection – just the ones you need for what you have planned to do.

11. Calculator

Has anyone taken a mathematics, statistics or coding course and forgotten to bring their calculator to their study session? I have, and forgetting it makes trying to study a complete waste of time. For some courses, the built-in calculator on your phone just won’t cut it.

Bookmark this page so you’ll remember to always add a calculator to your list of library study essentials.

12. Refillable Water Bottle

Hydration is key to keep your brain going, especially if you’re drinking coffee as well. Also, the air in the library tends to be very dry.

S’well water bottles are a quality investment and keep your water cold for as long as your study session lasts. Get one with a wide mouth so you can easily add ice cubes. Nothing like a hit of ice cold water to keep you awake (and focused).

The last thing you want to pay for is water. Every penny saved counts, especially when you’re a student.

13. A Coffee Tumbler

You’ll probably need a caffeine pick-me-up at some point, so pack a reusable coffee tumbler to keep your beverage warm (and from spilling it all over your laptop). I’ve managed to do that, so get a high-quality tumbler that won’t leak!

14. Snacks

You need brain food to keep you going, but you also need to be considerate of those around you.

Here are some great snacks ideas that you can bring to your library study session:

  • Celery, raisins and peanut butter
  • Trail mix with dried fruit, nuts & chocolate
  • Protein bar
  • Muffin
  • Homemade energy bites

Dry snacks are the best to pack. Once I brought cut-up fruit and my Tupperware container leaked all over my textbook.

Avoid bringing any foods that are loud, disruptive or have a strong odor.

15. Mints or Gum

This is essential in case you meet someone and have been drinking coffee all afternoon.

16. Money – Both Cash and Cards

Why would you need money at the library? A few reasons:

  • You want coffee or snacks from the coffee bar.
  • You need to make some copies or do some printing.
  • You have late fees to pay (However I hope you avoid these unnecessary fees!)

Along with your credit card and/or debit card, bring cash in case the machine is down (and to tip your barista!) If you have regular library study sessions and want preferential treatment, get to know the staff, including the barista. A modest tip of $0.50 they can see you physically put into their tip jar goes a long way.

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

– Dale Carnegie, Author of How To Win Friends And Influence People
Coffee bar at the West Vancouver Memorial Library.

17. Student ID Card

Discounts anyone? Speaking of money, always carry your student ID card. The library may not give out direct student discounts, but you never know what businesses are close to the library that you might need to pop into after your study session.

Related content: Ways To Save Money As An Online Student In Canada

18. Library Card

Many students love reading for pleasure and not just for school. As a reward for finishing a productive library study, I love browsing the book isles and picking out a new book to have on my nightstand.

Save time by using the self-checkout where scanning your library card is required.

19. Dress in Layers

Libraries can be hot and cold, so dress in layers that you can easily put on or take off that aren’t just your jacket.

Always dress well. Every time you leave your house, you never know who you’ll meet. Just because you’re a student is not an excuse to live in sweatpants. Be on top of your game at all times.

20. A Small Blanket

If you get especially cold or just want to feel cozy without wearing sweatpants or yoga pants, bringing a small blanket is a great way to be comfortable while looking elegant (and not like every other student out there.)

21. Lip Gloss, Hand Cream & Eye Drops

Libraries are dry environments, and your hands tend to dry out when handling paper. If you bring your laptop and have a lot of screen study time, your eyes can get dry as well, especially if you wear contacts.

22. Feminine Products

This won’t apply to the men reading this post, but this is a really important item for the women. You never know when you’ll need these, and it’s good to have extras on hand in case someone else is in need. Always be prepared.

23. Music Playlist

Like to listen to music while you study? Make sure your playlist is ready to go, and don’t forget your earbuds.

24. Active Subscriptions

An active subscription of Microsoft Office, note taking apps or any other subscriptions you need to complete your studies.

The last thing you need is to get set up in your study space and realize your subscription has expired, so you can’t do the tasks you had originally planned.

25. A Study Plan

Have a written study plan before you even leave your house. Planning is the key to success – everything else on this list just supports your study efforts.

Do you find it more productive to study at the library? Share your thoughts below!

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