Field Trip! (to the Library)

6 05 2009

A perfect storm of events lead me to the central library.
As I was walking through, there were many things that caught my eye. Maybe it was that I was attune to it or things have changed in the past seven years or maybe it was  a bit of my inner jerk coming out.

Okay, I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Direct Downtown Buffalo is a hole. The blight, the people, the ghost town it becomes after 6pm…
In winter, the homeless hang out there [the library] because it’s a public place, with heat and water, and as long as you’re not bothering the patrons or peeing on the periodicals, you’re welcome to stay from open to close.
I was looking for a photo of the exterior of the central library, but all the photos I found were favorable… guess people don’t take photos of hobos anymore. Within close proximity to the library are no less than two half-way recovery houses; so you can guess who else spends a fair amount of time browsing the new fiction.

Anyway, the entrance I use is the “nice” one… being it was newly remodeled. There’s the circulation desks and a cafe. The lighting is bright, the floors are shiny, it’s a good deal. The further away you get though (past the non-fiction and seasonal Buffalo History display) it’s dark and echoy.

I decided to take out some books on decorating and re-using items (as it is garage sale season) and it was quite literally night and day between the departments.
The mouse on the electronic database was sticky.
My shoes echoed on the linoleum.
I had to walk past (hold your breath CWG) CARD CATALOGS before passing a younger vagrant to get to the design area.

I can’t really find the right words to describe the shift, not just in demographic, but in ambiance…
Walking back towards the entrance, the patrons changed from surly and “Uh-nuh, no you didn’t!” to business suits and three dollar sodas.

Buffalo is a weird place.




8 responses

6 05 2009

excellent sociological observation. a microcosm of the city itself, captured in the space of a literary walk.

6 05 2009
nat @ book, line, and sinker

you’re so observant…and i would love to visit your library! old? dark? echo-y? sounds spooky. sign me up. my library is a little house…cute but the spook-factor isn’t very high. (except for the stalker guy who always listens in on my class and follows me around as i browse.)

6 05 2009

I remember my government education days when we spent weeks on the card catalog…what a waste.

7 05 2009

I love the old card catalogues. Nothing like a bit of fishmoth olympics to while away an afternoon.

7 05 2009
Stephanie of Stopbouncing

[to Gnu] Very well put! It was smart (or lucky) design to “hide” the unfavorables in the back of the building…

[to nat] And that’s the central library! The branches are a little nicer (generally). If you end up “upstate” way, I can show you around the city and we can run through the library, hoping not to get shot at.

[to MTAE] I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up. I had a thing for card catalogs and don’t care much for the electronic system. damn kids and their technology… get off my lawn!

[to kyknoord] Um, something got lost in translation. Not that pesky “u” in catalog (er, catalogue) but what is a “fishmoth olympics”? stupid internet.

7 05 2009

The main library in downtown Columbia is a marvel of Glass and various metals – uber modern at the time. There are three or four floors (I don’t go often as I live in a different county) it too has that older feel towards the “inner” sanctum. I find that many books in one place a) overwhelming and b) a slice of heaven.
As to re-use and garage sales etc. , there is a site that I am really enjoying…

7 05 2009

i dunno… i sort of like the ‘earthier’ folks over the suits and starbucks crowd. my roots must be showing…

8 05 2009
Dennis the Vizsla

Oh, yeah, I remember downtown Buffalo. The city where “Night Watchman” takes place is essentially a mash-up of the worst parts of Buffalo, Rochester, and Utica. The city where “A Flock of Crows Is Called a Murder”, on the other hand, is a mash-up of Utica, Herkimer, and Little Falls, and “Long Before Dawn” takes place mostly in thinly veiled versions of Utica, Old Forge, and Oriskany.

*SIGH* Now that I’m in California, I don’t know any of the local towns well enough to set books in them …

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