The Public Library

There are several library branches that I visit regularly.  The one closest to me is the one where I pick up holds and generally return books.   I can easily run in and out of there quickly, if I’m driving.  The holds section is close to the entrance, and on the way to and from the bathroom.  The self checkout is easy to use and the beep and click is satisfying.  So is the option of having a receipt emailed to you.

The online option is great.  When I know there is a book I want to read, I check the library online first.  It’s so easy to request a hold and pick them up where it’s convenient.  Also, I can get audiobooks online very easily.  The system just sends them to my phone and I can listen to them in my car from my phone, over the car’s radio, via Bluetooth.

The next closest library is easily accessible by Muni.  It is normally quiet and has a decent sized reading area, with comfortable chairs.  If you have an asthmatic cough, it’s very easy to get the reading area to yourself.  There is also WiFi so you can sync up your Kindle.

The main library is the one that I visit for movies, author talks, classes, finding a quiet place to read, etc.  I love visiting the main library.  Parking there is awful, so I take Muni or Bart.  I love the shows on public transportation (previous post), but they sometimes make reading difficult, since they are distracting.

I get a lot of exercise done when I go to the main library, too.  There is a decent walk (fitbit steps) to where I have to catch the train, whether it’s Muni or Bart.  Then, half the time, the escalators don’t work, so I have to make the choice of climbing the escalator (stair stepping, increasing my heartrate) or taking the urine soaked elevator.  The elevator is usually good for another show, too, but the stench of urine is usually too overwhelming.  Motivation for a workout.

The main library itself is a source of entertainment.  There are usually greeters who are not employees of the library.  One morning, one of these greeters announced that the library was already closed for the day, so he was going to just sleep against the door.  Well, no, the library wasn’t already closed, it hadn’t opened yet.  He was very surprised when security moved him in order to open the door.

There is a greeter at the other door, also.  He actually comes inside and stands near the book sale area, before the security guards.  He makes his daily announcements in another language, other than English, at the top of his lungs.  He usually has a wad of tissue shoved up at least one nostril, so we will be able to recognize him.

The bathroom has a ten minute limit, and no showering or bathing is allowed.  I’ve been there a few times where someone will come in to clean the bathroom and just dumps a bucket of water on the floor, getting the feet of everyone in the stalls soaking wet.  When people complained, “come on, it’s clean water!”  but, really, dumped on the floor of the public bathroom, it’s not clean anymore.  There is always someone in the bathroom talking to herself, or her imaginary friend, or taking offense at something someone has said.  Usually, it’s either in her head, or she’s misheard what someone said to another person.

The author talks and movies usually have gate crashers who just want a nice warm, dry place to sit for a while.  Sometimes they nap, sometimes they just relax.  Usually, during the q&a portion of the program, they’ll ask an unrelated question.  Just for entertainment value.

The reading area is usually full of sleepers.  Getting a quiet place to rest isn’t easy sometimes.  The main floor has very few reading seats available.  If you want to read quietly, go up to the third or fourth floor.  Keep in mind, though, that one floor has the foreign language books, and the books about learning to speak English.  Several times, I have been there with someone doing a “listen and repeat” book, repeating very loudly, forgetting that he has headphones on, and the rest of us can hear him.

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