A review of this library that you might not even know is here

There is kind of a “stealth” library really near where I live.  It is part of the county system, not the city system, so I didn’t know about it until I walked in looking for a place to work on my laptop.   It looks like a secret from the parking lot.

It turns out to be a pretty good place to work if I’m feeling done with the coffee shop for the day.

It’s quiet, with just enough noise to not be creepy.  It has lots of places to sit, including this:

bookcase fakeout

Facilities include study rooms, a computer room, and a surprisingly decent collection of graphic novels.  I started a new series while I was there, and I’m planning to go back for 2 more.

Near a sofa is a vase with some yarn and a pair of knitting needles in it.

In the back is a huge classroom with kid- and adult-sized chairs.  I don’t know what classes are held there.

It has carrells, an enclosed children’s room where they can make some noise, and a “Christmas tree” made out of old encyclopedia volumes (it was summer when I went).

If you get bored you can wander around and look at all the pocket pets they have distributed throughout the library in little cages: tiny tree frogs, a guinea pig, gerbil, bearded dragon, gecko, dove, koi.

As you may be gathering, it’s much bigger than it looks from the outside, as well as having good a/c and wireless access.  On the somewhat sad side, there are surprisingly fewer books than I think it needs (the shelves are not full and there is room for a lot more of them).

There are some “honor books” by the front that you can take without checking out and return whenever.  I haven’t checked out their bookstore yet.

It’s really doing a pretty decent job overall!  It sort of looks like they have not grown into their huge space yet, though they have been there at least 3 years.

This review does you no good, Grumpeteers, but it amuses us.  #2 adds:  What do you like about your favorite library?  What would your dream library have?

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16 Responses to “A review of this library that you might not even know is here”

  1. Chelsea Says:

    Baby story time on winter weekends.

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I look forward to the day when I can take my kids to the library and actually enjoy it. Right now they are too fascinated with the giant fish tanks inside and it detracts from the whole experience. They do like books, but apparently not as much as fish.

  3. Debbie M Says:

    My favorite thing is lots of books. For nonfiction, I love the university library where I worked. It has almost everything common, and half of everything obscure (before about 1988, it has 99% of everything obscure, but then there were severe budget cuts). For fiction, I prefer the central city library except that parking stinks.

    I understand that regular libraries can simulate having lots of books because of inter-library loan (at least if you know which book you want), but I haven’t tried it yet. And now there are electronic books, but I mostly prefer paper books.

    I also like checking out exercise DVDs to try them out so that I only buy the good one(s) (I’ve only found one good one). The movies and language DVDs are more disappointing–apparently in my neighborhood they are used as hockey pucks and often don’t work.

    I also liked being able to pick up tax forms there, but they don’t have them anymore. I still like to look around at the things they do have–last time I picked up a brochure for the Lifetime Learning Institute, which I’d always thought was cool before, but always ignored–but now I’m old enough to take their super-cheap classes!

    So the ideal library for me would have loads of books organized so that they are easy to find. Plus places to find out things to do.

    Possibly the ideal library for everyone is the one in Amsterdam. It has that plus every imaginable type of place to hang out reading (from semi-private desks to places you lie down on to comfy chairs in front of windows), plus a dance floor in the cultures area, plus loads of ever-changing displays, plus cool places for kids, plus banks of computers to borrow. You can read my review with pictures (scroll about halfway down the page or just search for “library”).

  4. Linda Says:

    Easy to get to on public transit, generous hours, a big DVD and ebook collection, free wifi, and allows beverages.

    Chicago’s Public Library system was recently named best in the nation, but I’m not sure why. http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local/chicago_news&id=9400375

    I understand our library system has to serve a LOT of people, but it lags in some critical features. First of all, most of the branches are not convenient to access via public transit. They are located in odd places and not near major el lines or stations. It’s possible to get to the library branches via el + bus, but that can be quite a slog during crappy weather (like we’ve been having pretty much continuously for over a month.) Because of budget cuts, the branch libraries are open reduced hours, too, so on any given day I have to double check the hours before visiting the branches closest to my home. (Each branch has different hours.)

    There are not very many ebooks, considering how many people this system serves. For many new releases (and I mean anything published in the past two years), the number of available copies is often in the single digits. I very often have to wait three to six months to get a novel as an ebook, and recently published hard copy books are also a long wait.

    My final pet peeve is that one is not allowed so much as a bottle of water in the library. Some of the librarians overlook this, but it makes working in the library for longer than an hour not possible.

    I guess this sounds more like a list complaints, but I have become informed of what I want in a library by what I’m lacking in a library. We do have free wifi, so that’s a big plus. We also have a beautiful main branch with an extensive music and DVD collection and an indoor Winter Garden that is full of light all year ’round (but only in the main branch in the South Loop, that takes nearly and hour to get to and back from my house.)

  5. Leah Says:

    I adore libraries. My local one is fine. It isn’t huge, but it is in a giant network. Better yet, the library of the school where I work is also linked up to the network, so it’s super easy for me to get books. They have a great children’s librarian, so I love to bring the kids I babysit. She even works teaching parents about literacy skills (ie how to teach your kids how to read and what to work on). She is amazing.

    It is really crowded, which maybe is a downside, but I like a bustling library. Shows that people actually use it.

    I pretty much love libraries everywhere. I really enjoyed the Ann Arbor city library system for all the movies and such, but they changed to charging for movie rentals right as I was moving away (flip side was that they had a huge selection because of charging, with lots of new releases).

    • Leah Says:

      Something intriguing. When I was in New Zealand, I stopped into a library there. The libraries were clean and large, but they had check out counters like super markets. Turns out you paid up front for book rentals. I don’t know if some was returned when you brought books back; I didn’t quite figure out the system. The costs were pretty low, IIRC, but you still paid. I’ve always been curious to learn more about the system.

      • Leah Says:

        Here’s the library I visited: http://www.rotorualibrary.govt.nz/about/charges/Pages/default.aspx

        Wonder if that’s widespread or just Rotorua?

      • Rosa Says:

        I was at a library in rural Indiana that charged for all video rentals, super cheap – maybe $1/week, back in the mid ’90s – except educational materials and children’s media. It seemed like a pretty sweet system, given how little funding they were working on.

        And here we have a section of newer books that you can pay I think $4 to get right away (obviously I don’t use this, since I don’t know how much it is exactly) instead of putting in a reserve hold and waiting months. It subsidizes the less popular stuff and makes up for the library having to buy 80 copies of the newest hot release that they’re going to have to cull 75 of in a few years.

  6. Rosa Says:

    since my local branch library has expanded to being open every day (in a blatant ploy to support the massively unpopular stadium deal, they expanded library hours with stadium deal money somehow? The new hours are marked on the schedule as “Ballpark fund”) and is on a bus line and easily bikeable, and I just don’t go to the branches that aren’t, I think my favorite thing about our library is the online request system. Any book or CD or DVD I randomly think of or see reviewed or recommended online, I can just look from home to see if the library has it, and if it does, I can have it delivered to our branch for me to pick up!

    Though maybe I should say the ability to pay fines online from the privacy of my own home without the library staff commenting on their size.

    • Leah Says:

      I can pay fines online for my library, but I feel piddly doing so. My fines are always $5 or less, and I worry it’s a waste of library money to pay CC transaction fees on such a small amount.

      I can’t believe library staff comment on the size of your fines! They should be like grocery store clerks — polite, friendly, and totally ignoring whatever you are actually getting unless it’s completely unoffensive (“oh, raspberries are back in season! Aren’t raspberries great?”).

    • Linda Says:

      Oh, yes, paying fines online would be a great thing to have! One of my friends who moved here from another urban area grumbled about not being able to pay fines online and not being able to renew overdue books online. We can renew books online, but if you’re one day late then you can’t pay a fine and renew/check out the book again, even if someone does not have a hold on the book. I never realized that some libraries offer this service, but apparently they do.

  7. Revanche Says:

    I love libraries but all I could think of as I read was: so this is the Library early-TARDIS… before the time travel.

    The ideal library? Rather similar to the one you describe plus chock full of a huge range of books and comics. A Powell’s like adventure with more accessible sections, and ladders on rails and huge cushy reading chairs. Bean bags for the kids. Dog friendly. Perhaps a cafe thing as I could spend my whole day there. Super online access to all the books there for my bad Can’t Leave the House days.


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