Private group rooms (with whiteboards), a semi-isolated reference area for even more quiet, couches, coffee tables, power at most tables, a movie theater, coffee bar, cafeteria (with everything from a taco bell to chinese food), convenience store, two banks (last I checked), a pretty good uni book store, art exhibitions, a halfway decent restaurant on the top floor and a computer store, parking decks are pretty close and relatively cheap.
If even has a private prayer area in case you need to call to a higher power for help with a particularly difficult bug.
Wifi requires you to be a student (last I checked), but tether to your phone and you're pretty much all set.
If you're working with a distributed team and don't want to shell out $3-4 grand a month on office space, just pay for parking once or twice a week and use this facility.
(also, if the Johnson Center is full-up, there's always the Fenwick library across campus that can be even more private since fewer people use it, and I believe most of the technical reference books are stored in the stacks there)
For some libraries you have to pay a small fee to get an access card. The mentioned Grimm Zentrum/HU library is free of charge:
"The Humboldt University Library is a scientific library open to the general public. Every person over sixteen years of age and resident in Germany may register to use it in accordance with the Library's Benutzungsordnung (Regulations of Use)." => see http://www.ub.hu-berlin.de/using-the-library/registration
Some libraries limit the borrowing of books (depends on the library) to university members (usually because of high demand) but you can almost always read the book while at the library.
Of course it's not allowed to do commercial work like coding on your startup, but if you don't annoy the people, probably nobody will care...
I go there for anti-procrastination as well, it's great.
Haven't been to the Grimm yet, but I remember passing by on the S-Bahn maybe a year ago and being excited about the huge new library under construction...I'm not in Mitte very often.
I feel like in the states it really varies. Brown university and RISD (down the hill) both require a Brown or RISD ID to get in but in high school in Seattle I did all of my research for history in University of Washington's largest library which is open to the public. I sometimes wish any of these were open 24 hours though.
Informally, I checked the websites of a handful of state universities, and all had some way for residents to obtain borrowing privileges. It's far from a comprehensive survey, and I may be wrong in my assumption that borrowing privileges would allow normal building access. Still, at first glance it seems promising.
When I lived in Washington State, I had no particular connection with U Dub, but I could also walk onto campus and walk into the library shelving areas with no problem. When I wanted to circulate books, I looked up the state administrative regulations (it helped that I was working as a lawyer, so I knew how to look those up) and found out that a state regulation basically allows most state residents to obtain circulating privileges at University of Washington libraries for the payment of a small fee. That library has a GREAT collection of materials on east Asian languages, and I circulated some of those while I was living in Washington state.
I also don't know whether the new Hunt Engineering Library is going to be public access or not, but I hope it will be because it's going to be awesome.
It might be worth taking another look at your nearest Uni library, as I think quite a few are similar to Exeter/Durham, at least in the day and if you don't want to take out books.
That said, I might go and explicitly ask sometime, as there may be an unpublicised way around the problem.
(I can't get into UTS' library anymore; my old student card must apparently be blocked now.)
Sure, not having access to documentation sucks, but not having access to HN and Twitter compensates for it well :-)
I then switch to working on a different part of the program, or a different program altogether, and come back to them when I'm next online.
This has worked pretty well for me so far, as long as I'm not under a time crunch.
I've noticed that I eventually get "push anxiety" when I work offline for longer periods. Once we even had to do a detour on a road trip from Poland to Helsinki to stop by a colleague's office in Sweden to be able to push code I had written on the way. I guess I simply don't trust my laptop...
Changing a variable usually increased productivity, even if the variable was just a change back to the original condition. However it is said that this is the natural process of the human being to adapt to the environment without knowing the objective of the experiment occurring.
Unless you're measuring against some concrete metric though, there's potential for misinterpreting a feeling of increased productivity vs actually achieving it. Also, you may be more motivated since you know you're measuring your output.
If i feel a need to have one of my devolepers or my designer collaborate with me more closely than Skype voice calls can afford, i prefer to call them over to the coffee shop rather than go over to the office.It works for the kind of work i do.It may not for everyone. It's cheap, it's comforting, and it's completely distraction free. I get more done in 3 hours over here than in 10 at any other place.
Glad you made it work though :)