So I signed up for the “Friends of the Bobst Library” at NYU today.
The guy at the access desk was being as kind as he could, knowing from the start that I wasn’t going to have any of the credentials I’d need to get into the building. But still I asked:
“Can I have access as a student at the New School?”
“You got an ID card?”
“Yep, here it is.”
“Naw, not with that card. You need to have the card with the picture on it.”
“I don’t have the picture.”
“I can see that you don’t have the picture.”
“Then how can I get in?”
“I don’t think you can, unless you’re a friend of the library.”
“I’m a friend.”
“I mean I’m friendly,” I smile, but I think he’s seen this before.
“Naw, it’s a program man, the Friends of the Library, see here,” he points to a single tattered brochure in a cracked and spidered lucite stand.
“Well then tell me about the “Friends of the Library” program,” I ask.
“Do you live in the neighborhood?”
“Sure do, 23rd street.”
“I know, that’s not community board two”
“No, no…One man, it’s gota be community board one…”
And that’s how it goes until I pay up my $225 for library access privileges. My new friend seemed surprised that anyone would cough up the cash just to find a place to write.
But I feel otherwise. I think it’s not such a bad deal, certainly less than the cost of a day of vacation, or a semesters worth of books. But there are some limitations. Since the Bobst isn’t so friendly with its Friends that it would actually lend them a book, I can’t check out material, which is okay because being a web 2.0 kinda guy I’m trying to live a pdf existence anyway — but it would be nice if I could anyway, at least as a sign of our new friendship, you know?
And although the smell of dust mites is almost overwhelming, they do have cool Arion chairs and a million dollar view of Washington Square Park. Over the trees you can see the Chrysler building all soaring and silver, filled with its midtown promise, looking back at the Village’s brick apartments, and back at me because I scored a table by the window. And I can actually bring in water, or coffee, so long as it is in an approved covered container. These are big plusses. Cool.
I just hope that they use some of my $225 for air conditioning, because judging from the radiation coming through the single sheet of north facing, uninsulated window glass, I don’t think this place is going to qualify for a green building certification anytime soon.
“So is it quite?” I asked my friend while he’s making up my “Friends of the Bobst” card. This minor industrial operation involves taking pictures, and heat transfers, and the use of all manner of Office Depo machines — I would have thought some kind of cereal box, punched out Junior Detective badge would have been just fine, but hey, this is a post 9/11 world.
“It is now but when the kids get back in it will not be. Look man, go to the even floors facing the park, that’s the best spots.”
Alright! I got me some inside info.
With that, and my freshly produced and vinylized Friends card still warm in my hands, I go for a quick tour, which tells me that he is right. In semester, when the kids are back, afternoons and evenings are going to be crowded. The Bobst was designed to store dead pulp media, not store students working with data, so the ratio of seats to shelves definitely favors the books.
Even finding power is kind of a silly hunt for one of the $12, plugged in behind the stacks, Radio Shack surge protecters the library leaves around almost as an afterthought to the fact that ratio of laptop users among the students is, well, 100%. You negotiate access to these power strips with your desk buddy, based, somehow, on the relative length of your your extension cords. Local convention seems to be to pack your own plug.
(And I wonder about the electrical system in the building, especially when I see the guy next to me whip out not one, but two surge protectors. What force lurks in these walls that calls for such shielding? )
But for now it’s all good. As of today, average price per visit: $225. Next time: $112.50. Let’s see if we can get it down to $5.