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Public education: Off-campus spots well suited for studying

STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE '11: Study spots 

Public education: Off-campus spots well suited for studying

BY MELISSA GOLDIN

The University of Rochester has Rush Rhees. The Rochester Institute of Technology has Wallace. NazarethCollege has Lorette Wilmot. It is clear that the colleges and universities in the Greater Rochester area are in no short supply of libraries. And yet there are only so many times that you can pull yourself into those familiar stacks and will yourself to work. Luckily, Rochester is teeming with locations perfect for off-campus studying for when you need to remove yourself from the academic bubble. Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list; we tried to select a smattering of venues that had proximity to the various area colleges. Use this guide as your starting point and be sure to seek out your own preferred spots of study.

Coffee Shops

Canaltown Coffee Roasters (6 S. Main St., Pittsford, 248-0390, canaltowncoffee.com)The smell of fresh java emanates from all corners of the cozy establishment. Although on the smaller side, Canaltown offers ample seating, both in the front of the shop in the form of tables and counter-style seating, and in the back, which holds a couple of cushy couches, living-room style. There is also limited seating outside under an awning where customers can enjoy Pittsford's picturesque views. Canaltown has excellent lighting as well as many conveniently situated outlets. The shop is usually busiest on Saturday mornings, and although it is fairly easy to hear others' conversations, there are only a couple of customers inside the majority of the time. A home away from home, Canaltown has all the coffee shop essentials, including bathrooms, free wifi, and even a Rubik's cube.

Java's (16 Gibbs St., 232-4820, javascafe.com)With a diverse array of artwork exploding from the walls and knick-knacks on every available surface, Java's has a cozy, inviting aura -- a coffee shop with the studious, magically mysterious feel of a library. Java's has ample seating indoors, as well as an outdoor area that is open during the warmer months. Light-wise Java's is on the dimmer side, but it is still plenty bright enough to work, aided by some natural light coming in through floor-to-ceiling windows in the front. Outlets to plug in your laptop are fairly scarce unless you act fast. Music plays in the background of the café, at a somewhat medium volume, adding to the cafe chatter that is surprisingly not distracting. Free wifi is available.

Jitters Coffee (4357 Buffalo Road, North Chili, 594-3922, gotthejitters.com) Barely five minutes from the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College lies Jitters Coffee, close enough to walk to, yet far enough away to remove yourself from the campus crush, if only for a few hours. A coffeehouse with an earthy feel due to a profusion of wood in its architecture, Jitters is a convivial establishment with both tables and booth seats, all of which are cushioned. In the warmer months it also offers an outdoor area with a number of tables. It is on the dimmer side, but you won't be mistaking your sandwich for your textbook thanks to natural light that shines through at many of the booths. The music playing, although audible, could hardly be called blaring. Free wifi is available.

Lovin' Cup (300 Park Point Drive, Suite #101, 292-9940, lovincup.com) Upon entering Lovin' Cup the suburbs of Henrietta disappear, and you may feel as though you've entered a hip café in Williamsburg - just one with the added bonus of suburban spaciousness. The establishment lends itself to an aura of organization with an artsy twist. There are only outlets in certain areas though, so choose your seat carefully. Inside there are a variety of seating options, including some tables that would be large enough for RubeusHagrid, Harry Potter's half-giant friend. The music, although noticeable, is largely relaxing, but beware if you err on the side of silence while studying as the venue frequently hosts live entertainment. The atmosphere is fairly bustling since it doubles as a sit-down cafe, but is spacious enough that you can still seclude yourself in the right corner. Free wifi is available.

Muddy Waters Coffee House (53 Main St., Geneseo, 243-9111, mwcoffeehouse.com) Muddy Waters, a popular hang-out for Geneseo students that's just a short jaunt from campus, may sell cookies the size of your face. But the establishment is so much more than just engorged baked goods. With its mismatched collection of sofas and armchairs, many a lamp set about throughout the coffee house, and carpeting that adorns its two seating areas, Muddy Waters could be your living room, Geneseo edition. The coffee house also has small, café-style tables as well as counter-style seating available with minimal outdoor seating up for grabs during the warmer months. Outlets abound, especially at the counter-style seating. Like most coffee houses of its kind music does play in the background, but the volume is low enough to the point that it is sometimes hardly noticeable. Muddy Waters gives customers the feeling that they are in a relaxed and eclectic establishment, but without the clutter or potentially overwhelming nature. Free wifi is available.

Public libraries

Central Library (115 South Ave., 428-7300, www3.libraryweb.org) "Pleasant" and "grand" are perhaps the words that can best describe the Central Library of Rochester and MonroeCounty. It is not so imposing so as to intimidate, and yet it is far from drab, featuring succulent wood tables surrounded by an array of outlets for your laptop or cell-phone charger. The majority of the seating is found on the main floor, although there are tables upstairs as well in the local history/genealogy department, which tends to be even more quiet than the rest of the building which, in traditional library fashion, is particularly hushed. Free wifi is available, as are desktop computers (if you have a library card).

Henrietta Public Library (455 Calkins Road, 334-3401, hpl.org)This library has a bright and cheery feel to it, aided in part by bright colors splashed across the walls, the carpet, and everything in between. There are many tables littered throughout the never-ending shelves, from regular tables out in the open to secluded cubicles. There are plenty of outlets, mostly along the walls. With its open, airy design the Henrietta Public Library is anything but stuffy, although it may be because of this that conversations in other parts of the building can be heard fairly easily, and true silence can be hard to come by. Free wifi is available, as are desktop computers (if you have a library card).

Wadsworth Library (24 Center St., Geneseo, 243-0440, wadsworthnylibrary.blogspot.com)Wadsworth Library is big enough to not feel cramped, yet small enough to feel homey and inviting, and comes with all the library essentials. The main floor houses most of the books, and the small balcony comes complete with sink-your-butt-into-them couches. The majority of the seating can be found on the balcony, which also has a number of large, wooden tables available for use, as well as a number of plugs. It gives visitors a feeling of privacy without feeling completely secluded. The main floor has a reading room with even more couches, as well as a lone table out among the bookshelves. Wadsworth is a very open building -- there are no full dividing walls -- and from the balcony you get a commanding view of the entire space. The high ceilings also help to alleviate any claustrophobic feelings and vast windows afford plenty of natural light, complemented by bowl-shaped lights that illuminate the library with a mellow kind of brightness.

Unconventional study spots

The Center at High Falls (60 Browns Race, 325-2030, centerathighfalls.org) Once you've followed the signs through Downtown Rochester to the High Falls district you will run smack into the visitor's center, which has free admission (with a suggested donation of $2 for adults) and boasts a clearly organized museum downstairs as well as an art gallery on the second floor. The center has a tranquil, relaxing vibe to it with the occasional visitors wandering through. There are a few benches available in the museum section of the center, but upstairs in the art gallery you will find an unexpected yet serene studying environment. There are two metal, turquoise tables situated at the top of the staircase, as well as a number of other seating options scattered throughout. And despite the lack of free wireless internet, there is an abundance of outlets throughout the venue. While the warm weather lasts you can also sit on the Pont de Rennes Bridge and look out onto the falls, or take advantage of the other surrounding nooks and crannies.

MemorialArtGallery (500 University Ave., 276-8900, mag.rochester.edu)There is something utterly inspiring (and perhaps vaguely hipster) about doing work surrounded by heaps of artwork. If you're not ready to part with that crisp $5 bill and you don't attend UR or NazarethCollege (which grants you free admission to the museum), the MemorialArtGallery has a tranquil atrium right in the front entrance that is free and open to the public. With a skylight covering the entire sunken area and bushes and trees planted along the outer edges, visitors get the feeling of being outside without distractions like bugs or the wind. Fittingly, the space has its own share of art, as well as a small fountain that only adds to the outdoorsy feeling with the sound of a constant flow of water. There are a number of café-style tables available for seating and even a couple of outlets.

            If you do decide to venture into the depths of the gallery you will find a multitude of benches throughout, most of which are wide and cushioned. The noise level inside the gallery does get louder than in the atrium due to the chatter of touring visitors, but it is bearable. Note that bags are not allowed outside the atrium and must be stored in lockers. MAG also hosts a small, cozy library that is part of the University of Rochester library system. It houses a few tables and chairs, as well as a couple of computers for your more high-tech needs.

Village Gate (274 N. Goodman St., 442-9061, villagegatesquare.com)Village Gate is a mall with an urban, artsy twist. It has a number of tables and benches scattered throughout its halls, with the occasional outlet if you sit in the right place. It even features a fairly large outdoor courtyard for the warmer months, as well as a large indoor atrium featuring a variety of sculpture and other artworks. The owners are certainly not cautious when it comes to decoration either--it looks as if someone came and attacked the building with about 15 different buckets of paint--in an appealing, vibrant kind of way. Village Gate has a surprisingly open feel, due to in part to the ceiling, which is painted to resemble a cloudy yet sunny day, or perhaps to the architecture itself, with high ceilings and natural light seeping through skylights high above. Peacefully artistic, Village Gate lacks a lot of hustle and bustle, which only adds to its quiet mystique. Free wifi is avialble. XXXYOU SURE ABOUT THAT?XXX

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