I think the New York Public Libraryis one of the greatest things ever. I mean, those lions? You can't find those in other places unless they're in saddened, dwarf-sized fashions guarding without so much as a roar but more like a "meh", the great suburban two-garaged two-and-a-half kidded house behind them. Rowr.
The NYPL has tons of everything ever and specialized branches and great events and exhibitions. But living in this apple-cheeked city means that there's usually about 10,000 people wanting the same book or whatever that you do, especially if it's a hyped-up, much talked-about release. Or if it's remotely popular. After a few exhausting trips to different library branches, I gave up and started reserving things and having them delivered to a branch real close to work. I usually forget about them so when I get the notice in my email, it's like a little present.
But I browsed the ol' hometown library today with much pleasure. I borrowed some Ishiguro and Coetzee and Chekhov. Even though the computerized catalogue was down, I was able to browse the few stacks without afterwards feeling like I'd run a marathon and was in need of some orange juice and bacon or saying excuse me squeezing by the many other oh so literate people. I helped out a mother and her daughter find Lovely Bones which is by Alice Sebold, not Mary Higgins Clark or Wally Lamb, as her mother haphazardly guessed. The teen daughter was like, "Seriously ma, what have you been reading?"
Leaving somewhat triumphant with my small stack o' books, I looked back at the library's non-personality, scattered with sullen-looking teenagers studying and parents blissed out reading and indian and chinese newspapers and the same librarians who have worked there since my childhood, one of who(m?) wearily waved me on when I promptly set off the alarm at the exit.