I spent a part of this Sunday afternoon visiting the Central Library of the Pasadena System. As usual the place was jammed with patrons. The reading room had hardly an empty seat, the downstairs internet lounge was full--and there are quite a few stations there. It was a joy to behold.
I only wish that the building itself was more accomodating. Built the same year that Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, the place is ornate, storied, and difficult: an old lady stuck in her ways. Going downstairs to either the computer room or the magazine storage invariably makes a person feel as though he might never get out alive. The passageway is too narrow, the room confining. It has the feel of a converted basement and all the appearance of same. [By the way, the parking lot was overflowing with spot-seekers and all the metered parking taken as well. Far from being a good sign, this simply indicates that there are not enough spaces for the carriage trade.]
Going from one place to another in that library is like finding a tomb in a pyramid. My habit is to simply reach the New Books shelves on the ground floor and content myself with their offerings.
Of course, criticism of the place is not received well by some citizens, but I would venture that none of those folks use the place with any regularity or work there. It is no fun trying to do research in an historical monument.
I don't think that Pasadena Central will ever be razed--nor should it be. What the town needs is simply another large library, situated in the same area, which can fulfill the functions of a modern library while the venerable lady on Walnut Street is preserved for some library function and perhaps other municipal duties.
I picked up two books today from the new offerings shelf and once again confirmed the value of the place. Not only does Central have a constant flow of new reading but the staff remains what it has always been: first-class in every regard. The clerical staff flies around helping patrons as if their lives depended upon it, and the librarians--well, I could praise them but they are my friends and would never forgive me.