Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Weekly Ode to the New York Public Library, the first

Welcome to my first regular feature on this blog. We’re talking about frugal, we’re talking about NYC, so we’d damn well better be talking about the New York Public Library. To be fair, I’m a bibliophile and many of you may not be. The NYPL still has plenty to offer. Before we get into specifics, however, my ode:

The NYPL and Me

As a girl growing up in the heart of the city,
summer vacations were lengthy and boring.
‘Til one day I discovered a place that was pretty
damn cool for a girl who was always exploring.

A building that was filled from basement to roof
with books on more topics than I could imagine,
Broadening my horizons and offering proof
that the world was an exciting and fun place to live in.

That building was the New York Public Library,
A place that made my world a little less scary,
And brought me friends both real and imaginary.

That library became my second home,
And even now that I am grown,
I borrow more books than I own.

No, I’m not a poet. I know it. Nevertheless, expect many more of these odes (muahaha!). Every week I’ll talk about something that the NYPL has to offer.

This being our first week, I want to provide a general introduction to the library system. I meet too many people who don’t use the NYPL system at all, which I find utterly ridiculous. If you buy books, subscribe to magazines, or pay for Netflix, you could be saving your money and using the NYPL to fulfill all of your needs. Here’s a sampling of what it has to offer:

1. Millions of books. Literally. Any book that has sold more than a few thousand copies—and many that haven’t—can be found at the NYPL. Rarer and more academic tomes may be for reference only, but your average enjoyable reading material can be taken home for up to 3 weeks—and then renewed up to 5 times from the comfort of your laptop.

2. Lots of exciting DVDs and videos. Popular TV shows, movies, cartoons, and so on can often be found at the NYPL, as well as foreign-language movies, instructional vids like yoga or how to play the guitar, and much more. (No porn, though…not that I’ve checked)

3. CDs: Head to the Lincoln Center branch and explore aisle after aisle of musical CDs from absolutely every genre. The NYPL also has plenty of audio books and language courses available on CD.

4. Branches all over Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. See complete listings here: These branches vary wildly in their collections, but all have reading rooms, computers with Internet access, usually friendly librarians, and are open at least 6 days a week.

5. A virtual e-library with tens of thousands of books available for download, as well as audio books and much more.

6. Web access to the entire catalogue, both the lending library and reference collection (now combined into one catalogue). You can also access your own account from the web, renewing books and placing holds from any computer.

7. Best of all, an INTER-BRANCH HOLD SYSTEM that allows you to request any one of the millions of items in the catalogue and have it delivered to the branch closest to you.

I’ll be writing more in depth about every one of these NYPL offerings. For now, I’ll just provide instructions on how to get a library card for you crazy fools who don’t have one yet! To folks living in Brooklyn and Queens—I’m sorry, I don’t know a damn thing about those library systems. I’ll think about looking into it in future. But I live in Brooklyn, and I don’t use the BPL. If you work in Manhattan, as I do, just find a branch close to your office and enjoy!

How to get a library card:

1. Find the NYPL branch nearest you at the above listing.
2. Bring ID (like driver’s license or student ID) to your preferred branch.
3. If your ID doesn’t have your NYC address listed on it, also bring a piece of mail (utility bill, etc.) with your current name and address on it.
4. Walk up to the front desk—there will likely be a sign indicating where to sign up for new cards.
5. Fill out a form.
6. Get your card.

Yeah, it’s even easier than it sounds. You can also do it online (check out, but you’ll have to wait forever to get it in the mail if you do. If you’re able, just go in person and start experiencing the wonderful, rapturous joy that is the NYPL! Or at the very least, go read a book. :-)

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