Today I write from the William K. Sanford Library in Colonie, NY. From the picture, you can see it’s of the same era of my hometown library, Waterford Public. And, in fact, when I walked in, I was immediately transported back to my days as a page. I even almost took one of the book trucks and started reshelving.

As with the Saratoga Public Library (let’s give you a link right here), this place is quite popular. When I pulled up the driveway at 8:55 a.m., there was already a line of people waiting at the door. Within two minutes of its official 9 a.m. opening time (i.e., the time it took for me to finish my coffee), a stream of cars began pouring into the parking lot. Yay, NY public libraries! Yay, NY public library lovers!

Upon walking in it was clear to see that one of the popular items was, unsurprisingly, the public Internet stations. All the spots were taken within 10 minutes of the library’s opening. Happily, I had my laptop with me; even more happily, the wireless access worked right away. (Speaking of which, I do have to say that the library’s website leaves a bit to be desired. After hunting through the not-so-pretty pages for ten minutes, I was unable to definitively determine whether or not there was wireless access. Which, by the way, was a lesson in ‘Ask Your Friendly Librarian.’ When I went up to the Information Desk at the Saratoga library to ask if all the NY public libraries had wireless access [no], and then asked how I could find out which ones did, she suggested the radical notion of picking up the phone and calling. Frighteningly, that hadn’t even occurred to me.)

The sad part is that, unlike at Saratoga, there doesn’t appear to be a large amount of places that you can easily set up and get power. The one place I was able to find is almost directly under the HVAC vent, the “H” — i.e., “heat” — being the prevalent letter of the day. Although I was a bit cold yesterday due to the AC on a 65 degree day, I much prefer that to my current feeling of sticky and clammy. Blech. I can go outside to feel that. The other sad part is that Colonie does not appear to throw the same amount of funding towards its library as does Saratoga. The seats are decidedly late 70s/early 80s, and the rest of the furniture is of similar provenance. Unlike the huge windows in Saratoga, this building was designed during the lovely moment in time where architects felt that if you were inside, you shouldn’t be thinking about being anywhere else. Therefore, all that is available are the tall, narrow windows that make me feel like I’m on the inside of a fort.

(Hey, let’s try that newfangled technology thing again! Make it work, Camera Phone.)

(Alas, Tim Gunn. I cannot. Although my phone insists the picture has been sent, my email does not acknowledge the same. If/when it comes through, I will post it here.)

Update: The picture just came through.

At your battle stations!

At your battle stations!

I also haven’t come across one of those Used Book rooms like at Saratoga and in tiny Richmond, MA, that I love so much. Man, I am wishing that I’d just bought up all those series books Lucy likes for 25 cents a pop. I may have to send Kelley back there when he’s in Saratoga again on Thursday morning. (I’m also chastising myself for not buying the copy of the Dick/Felix Francis book that literally looked like it had never been open. That whole psychological thing of bargain-shopping is interesting. In a Borders, a $5 book seems like a steal. In a library, where it’s the most expensive thing on the shelf, it feels like you’re being robbed. Damn it, Jennifer. Support your local library! I am so sending Kelley back to buy it.)

That said, it is wonderful to be reminded of the services that libraries can and do perform for their peeps. Need a place to hang out for the day and get some work done? You can find it at your local library.

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