January 5, 2010
I Love My Public Library
I love the San Antonio Public Libary System, particularly the Central Library downtown (nicknamed "the Red Enchilada" because its facade is painted the exact hue of red enchilada sauce). I've included a photo of it here - those big red concrete balls never move, they're perpetually cascading down that cement wall. There's a lot of art around the place.
You know, thinking about it, love isn't a big enough word. I ADORE the Big Red Library we have here. Why?
When I drive down to the Central Library, I get covered parking that's free for the first hour. I never have far to walk to reach the front door (which is great when I'm lugging a load into the return desk).
Holds are found on the first floor, near the exit. Go there, and search the stacks for your last name and voila! Anything that you requested online be pulled for you sits there. Waiting for you. Nice.
Automatic check-out is available. Take your books, DVDs, etc. to the little black screens and scan your selections for yourself. No line. No waiting.
It's Got a Great Selection
The first thing that most folk probably think about using the public library is that it's free. Well, duh. That's a great thing, you can't beat that price, right?
However, another great thing about the Public Library is its offerings. The San Antonio Public Library system is huge, and it's always expanding. Go look at the new books that are being promoted at the front of Border's or Barnes and Noble, then go find them just as available at the local library. (Yes, there may be a hold or two in front of you. You can wait.)
The new releases aren't the best thing, though. It is the stuff that's at the library that literally isn't anywhere else -- it's out of print. Don't yawn at this -- there are many, many treasures that marketing has cut off the store shelves that you will love. Great stuff. It's so much fun to wander the shelves and find something truly wonderful that no way you would see at the bookstore (not that I don't wander the local brick and mortar stores, too -- I love them as well).
By using the online library website, you gain access to the entire offering of the library system, not just the stacks in the branch you visit. Look online for new releases, authors by name, new fiction audiobooks, etc. Amazing what's out there, and within your reach. For free. Free.
Back to the Central Library ....
I like the Red Enchilada because of the parking mentioned earlier, and the easy access hold shelves near the exit. I also like visiting the Texana floor because I'm nerdy enough to like writing up there, looking around at the artifacts and thinking I'm a few floors up from the San Antonio River and within walking distance of the Alamo as I sit there. Cool historical tidbit. I like all the home decor books on another floor, and the cool second floor library lamps.
And when I leave, I also like the newest addition to Red -- the little coffee shop. It's cozy and friendly, filled with booklovers and yes, the occasional homeless person trying to keep warm (there but for the grace of God....), all of whom are reading and chatting. (Fine, the homeless guy in the gray flannel jacket is usually talking to himself. He's a local, always around, always smiling. I think his name is Jim.)
The little coffee shop is right outside the first floor exit, and it's fun to stop with my new books to pick up something good to drink. I decide between coffee of the day or a fancy drink (latte, usually) and listen to the faint voices whispering to me from the pages -- Donald Westlake's cab driver, someone has his money; Tamar Myers' Magalena Yoder, she's pregnant!; Jeeves is saving the day again; Josephine Tey, she died too soon but hey! her inspector is solving the mystery of Richard III and the Princes in the Tower, did he do it? ....
and it's a wonderful moment. I order my coffee, take my drink, smile a goodbye to the Guy-I-Think-Is-Named-Jim, and my new pals and I leave for new adventures.
I love my public library.