i'm writing this from the library...not harold washington, the huge downtown library where i've been a good five or ten times, but the local branch, 49th and blackstone. it's pathetic...i've lived in this town for four years, and i just got my public library card this past monday. it's somewhat understandable, since i used to have access to the college libraries. they were all closer, and they had selections of academic, non-academic, and academic-but-i-want-to-read-them-anyway material. once i stopped taking classes...poof, no more access. that's rather silly since i still work in one of the libraries. i had taken a habit of "borrowing" (not actually checking out) books from there, since there's no actual way for them to check that as i leave the library. but, i've gone through most of the ones i really want to read since i've worked there for so long...and most of the books are dry legal research tomes, since it is a law library. now i finally have a public card...the only drawback is that the chicago public library system has a five-book limit for the first month. grumble.
this library's alright...not a particularly broad range, and the nonfiction is especially outdated. i think it specializes in children's books anyway...the adult section is there to amuse the parents. there seem to be more nonfiction books about parenting and homemaking than about anything else, which really doesn't do it for me. the queer studies section is about five or ten books, sexuality-in-general even smaller. they've got women's studies books, but not many, nothing particularly interesting, and nothing newer than about 1980. as for facilities, i'm vexed that they don't have any stuffed, comfortable reading couches or chairs. it's all straight-backed wooden chairs at glass-topped study tables. that facet of the library reminds me so much of the green road library, the one i would walk to when i lived in raleigh...and even that library had a couple of stuffed chairs near the entrance, in which i would curl up and read patricia cornwell mysteries, trashy bodice-rippers, or whatever else i felt like getting my hands on that day.
still, i can't knock this library so badly, i think i'm being unduly harsh. the fiction section is nice, and it's in a cute little balcony (file under eckhart library, it's a similar feeling, except that it's fiction and not computer programming books). it'll keep me amused for awhile, whether i want to read serious literature, modern fiction, or breezy popular novels. today i went for serious modern fiction, since i was in the mood for something set in my own time, but all of the breezy, silly books made me curse at them under my breath in the stacks. i've had my fill of chick-lit, of yuppie women searching for love (or at least a screw), for a while.
the building is also a nice little place. it's the oldest branch library in the chicago system, it's a hundred years old this year. it has been renovated since then (1980, according to the website), but it still carries an old, dignified charm. there's even a rotunda into which you enter. it's a little bitty rotunda, since it's a neighbourhood library after all, but it's light white/grey marble streaked with darker grey, and there are columns and arches. it is a nice little corner of hyde park, one in which i should spend more time...especially since i don't live all that far away from it anymore. it's a nice after-work unwinding. it's quiet in here.