Friday, February 26, 2010
Ode to SF Public Library
When we moved to our new apartment we realised, with some interest, that there is a branch of SF public library right on the corner of our street, a mere 60 seconds walk away (if you don't get distracted by the multitude of toddlers, babies and dogs and of course Philz coffee between our place and there). We thought that it might be worth seeing if there was a toddler story time at a convenient time for us but were far more interested in the huge Borders book shop that is a 2-3 minute walk from our place. How short-sighted we were!
Yes there's a toddler story time, and once you get passed your British squeamishness for 25 minutes worth of song singing and a mere 5 minutes of story telling it's a really lovely set up. All the parents and toddlers are in a brand spanking new room, removed by a outdoor terrace from the hush of the main library. The toddlers have little mats to sit on on the floor while parents can sit with them or up on chairs and the person who leads the group is bright, shiny and enthusiastic without making you want to stick your fingers down your throat. We go whenever we can on a Friday evening and Leah alternates between quiet acceptance, bolting for the door and actually quite enjoying herself (today she actually quite enjoyed herself - probably because she had a little friend to show off to).
Our library is one of around 25 libraries in the SF system (although several are closed for renovations). Our library is not yet 4 years old, it's small but it's pristine, it's nestled between the wonderful Philz, and a little 'creek' with pedestrian walkway where Leah can run pell-mell without fear of bolting into traffic (rare in the city believe me) with the added bonus of spotting the occasional seal or pelican. You can also see at least 2 or 3 'choo-choos' on a ten minute jaunt along said walkway and if you go just one block along you get to see the Giants baseball stadium in all its glory:
But none of this is why I love the library. Here's why I love the library:
I can sit at home, log into my online SFPL account, search for a book across the 20+ libraries in the system and if I find the book I can request it be delivered to my little branch. I get an email telling me when the book has arrived and I can stroll over there in seconds where the book sits on a shelf with my name on it and pick it up. I can go to the self-checkout-scanner thing, scan my card and the book and walk out. I can then read it and return it, or I can renew it online several times if it's taking me longer to finish - which if I took advantage of my full 50 book limit I would no doubt need. When I'm finished, I stroll back over, pop it in the deposit box in the wall, and stroll home.
And it's free!!! Absolutely free!!!
My last couple of requests were at my library within 2 days. Beat that Amazon!