I haven’t stepped foot in a library in, well…I’m going to say a decade, but I think it has been longer than that. Today, in between meetings and deadlines, however, I was in need of some wifi – stat. As I bolted up and down the streets looking for a not-so-crazy-crowded Starbucks I spotted the New York Public Library near Bryant Park. Not the giant, beautiful building on Fifth, but the smaller, dingier, built-in-the-mid-to-late-70s one on 40th, across the street.
I popped in, a little too giddy about my find, and asked the security guard if the library offered free wifi. “Yes,” she said. “Just go up to the fourth floor.” She was so pleasant, I said, “Thanks! I haven’t been in a library in years.” Okay…that was overkill on my part. She didn’t shout out “enjoy” or “welcome back” like I’d somehow discovered something well, undiscovered, and was going to be the only one on this mysterious fourth floor sponging wifi. She just smiled and said, “Okay.”
I bounced up to the fourth floor and of course asked the information desk how I was to access my free wifi. Two, yes TWO delightful people behind the desk tried to answer at the same time a guy behind me stacking books asked how he could help me. “How do I used the wifi?” He should have said, “just turn on the computer moron,” but he patiently explained there is no password, just use NYPL. I said, “thanks,” but the women behind the counter wanted to continue being helpful. “Do you need power,” one asked. “Well, no, I actually forgot my plug so I’ll just be here as long as my computer can go!” They were being so helpful, but really they should have said, “lady, chillax. Go work, stop babbling like you are the first person ever to enter a library.” They smiled. They were sooo nice.
Did you know there are banks of computers anyone can use for free? There are power outlets peppered between the banks of tables and chairs that you can use without buying a $5 latte first. And by the way, Starbucks has been taking some heat lately for making it clear they don’t want you soaking up the wifi anymore unless you’re soaking up their java. And might I add, these days in New York, there is no collective crowd less pleasant than the once helpful and friendly baristas serving that overpriced foam. Very unlike the New York Public Library.
So my new office away from my office is the New York Public Library, where the staff gives city workers a GREAT name, where nobody is yammering on their cellphones about important world matters like “Gossip Girl” or the Kardashian wedding, and where you don’t have to listen to the sound of milk being frothed.
And how fabulous: you still can’t talk, which means you can actually think or write in peace.