Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Enjoying the SF Public Library

The San Francisco Public Library Main Branch

Larking at Grove Streets, San Francisco

I am a newcomer to the library. When I retired seven years ago I decided to get books, CDs and DVDs from the library instead of buying them since our income is cut in half. The library’s collection certainly meets my needs and wants.

I was shocked at first to see so many street people, poorly clad, sometimes dirty and disheveled. Then I thought how wonderful that people much poorer than I find good use of the library facilities. The tables and chairs have men and women reading magazines books and using their own laptops. Occasionally someone dozes at the table head down.

The building itself is full of natural light, high ceilings, open stairways and balconies overlooking the atrium of the central main entrance. Curved spaces, green walls, silver railings are an uplift to the eyes and spirits. Four elevators are available to get us to the floors above and back again. Brightly colored flyers announce a myriad of classes, lectures and exhibits for people of all ages.

The fifty library owned computer screens are always busy with people watching DVDs of old movies and TV shows. People waited their turn to use a machine sat in a long line of wooden chairs.

In the mezzanine where the daily papers and all the magazines are kept, the tables are most filled with readers and occasional nappers. All through the library the tables for writing and reading are well occupied with all sorts and conditions of human beings using the resources of this public institution.

The toilets on the ground floor are always busy with many people walking in and out using those facilities and not stopping to view books. What a blessing it is for many people who are homeless or just caught short to have a clean safe place to use toilet facilities. They are clean and regularly maintained. This a great boon to the people of the city, the aged and infirm and anyone who simply needs a toilet.

The library staff is inevitably friendly, yet business like with the many requests for books, information and use of the technical equipment to facilitate the use of the library. I admire their patience with the loud talkers, the demanding, those with a sense of entitlement and the totally confused. One can return and check out books, CDs and DVDs with ease automatically.

I talked with an acquaintance who said he won’t go to the library because of the kind of people that go there. It is quite safe in the Market Street library area. You will get into trouble if you are looking for sex and drugs. You may see and hear some of the walking wounded that are off their meds or not in institutions of which we have too few to care for the numbers of disturbed people on our streets. Otherwise people leave each other to mind their own business.

I like the diversity of age, economic status and costuming of the those who go. There are always little children holding hands, looking wide-eyed on their first trip to the library. I almost always wear a hat. I get more comments like, “Dude, I love your hat,” at the library than anywhere else. The public library is like the church; it has to accept anyone who comes in. Sensible standards of decorum are expected. It is a public library; it is a people’s library. I love to go there and thank the public and the people who make it happen.

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