There are several theories that try to explain how physical space affects various mental functions, such as the ability to retain information. Some studies claim that varying locales is best, while others recommend sticking to a single spot for optimal studying. Most would advise against working from your bed in a frantic rush six hours before a deadline, but hey. The data is inconclusive.
In my own experiments through campus space I have found that I do most of my work in the third floor common room of Charles Pratt. This is because, despite my grand delusions about joining crew (I love the water! It’s so collegiate!), any movement of my body that lasts longer than four minutes puts me in a terrible mood. The walk from my dorm to the adjacent common room takes precisely six seconds and for this reason, I find myself at the library only in moments of extreme desperation or accidental physical proximity.
There is a light at the end of the Stacks, and it is Merrill Science Library. Give us your tired, huddled masses, says Merril. She welcomes all into her airy, quiet halls with open arms at any time of the day or night. Despite this sacred space being so conveniently located a shorter-than-four-minute walk from my bed, I didn’t so much as pass through until late last February and it changed my life.
Being located entirely above ground, Merrill Library has massive windows that flood the space with light if you are farsighted enough to start your work before sundown or if, like me, you have spent an unfortunate night toiling away until sunrise. Which you can do, because Merrill never closes. It’s a twenty-four hour workspace where Amherst dreams come true. Another perk of studying in Merrill is that everybody is too busy and focused to talk to you and feed into your nasty procrastination habit. It was seriously so quiet in there two weeks ago you could hear my brain cells slowly turn to mush as I read the words “hegemonic structuring of movement” for the thirtieth time at four in the morning.
Merrill had me at natural light, but there are added perks when you factor in the Q Center located a floor down. Here you will find free printing (!!!) and a steady supply of hot chocolate and instant coffee, which, let me tell you, starts becoming your sole reason to live at a certain time of the night (4 AM).
I have never felt more productive than I do in Merrill. The space works for me, for the reasons mentioned above and maybe some more mysterious logic only my brain and body understand. There are many lovely places on campus to do work in and I recommend trying them (especially Beneski, which deserves an honorable mention) to see which ones work and which don’t. Maybe in a few months I’ll have found a new miracle space where my papers practically write themselves but, for now, you can find me at the science library.