As mentioned many times before, I am a book junkie. I read them by the pound, I collect them as much as my finances allow (sometimes more than that), and a library card was my first "plastic" in this blessed country. To me, library always was, to quote Mr. Bennett from the 80's movie version, a place of peace, tranquility, and leisure. Slowly, but very surely, that changed.
First, there was that infamous law suite when a homeless dude was asked to leave the premises because he was stinking them up; after that, they can stink up any library they want as long as they are quite, and using library's lavatory would usually constitute an act of desperation, since so many homeless use it.
Then, in the interest of public's general welfare, libraries added movies to their loanable collection. Oh, brother! Talk of the lack of better manners! The movie section is usually full of people breathing down each other's necks, pushing, showing, haunting the clerk with the "fresh" supply cart, and demolishing that cart before the poor public servant gets a chance to unload the afore mentioned supply on the shelves. The situation only deteriorated with the addition of DVDs. All the above mentioned behaviors have gotten worse; plus, for whatever reason, there is always at least one "fragrant" patron always making himself at home in that idiotic section, and couple of times somebody was busy passing gas as he was occupying himself with the search for a perfect movie experience.
Next, let us not forget the general air of, well, stupidity that always permeates the general vicinity of the public servants. Apparently, some people who were dropped off the welfare rolls, plus some former juvenile delinquents, plus some senior citizens in search of additional income (all of them usually belonging to the same race) found themselves a perfect sinecure: that of the library security guard. Let me tell you, if, G-d forbid, there is a real emergency, they would be less useful than Clinton's autobiography (at lest that can be used as an assault weapon). In the absence of real emergency, or real usefulness, for that matter, all of them have perfectly adapted to the king or queen of the hill routine, which they perform with amazing talent.
The most glaring example of that would be the cell phone users. I mean, I detest those selfish jerks, but let's be logical. One high school intern with a cart of self-returned books makes way more noise than ten cell phone users combined. Preventing people from using those things on the "main service" floor is simply not practical. But, oh, the feeling of power! Some of the guards go even further: there is an official policy of cell phone usage on the staircase. One of them decided that the sundry conversations were disturbing his mating ritual by one of the exits, and he was trying to explain that this staircase is off limits, cell phones have to be used only on the upper stairs. Sorry, dude, for making your life more difficult, but I refused to submit to this petty tyranny, and finished my conversation in full few of his cooing.
After all this, try to exit the library in peace. No such luck. Surprisingly, Brooklyn library, which is usually inferior to Manhattan's and deficient in many ways, has a perfect "exit strategy" for patrons: when you check out materials, anti-theft device is deactivated as well; if it is not deactivated, you will simply make a lot of noise by the exit. Makes sense, doesn't it? Well, not so in Manhattan.
After everything is scanned, you have to make sure that every single book, CD, and movie has a little piece of paper with the due date attached to it: that is your proof that you actually checked it out. Then you have to make sure not to pack anything, since the above mentioned public servant by the exit has to make sure all the library materials have the above mentioned scrap of paper; and then he or she has to check your bag to make sure you are not taking any contraband with you. After all this, you have to contrive to pack everything in your bag somewhere around the exit. Some of them provide some kind of narrow perches to do just that, and there is inevitably some jerk of a library patron occupying the spot of three people and blocking the exit to boot. Oh, joy!
Here is my humble suggestion: let them have a psychologist on staff by the exit, because anyone who steals something from the library has a serious case of kleptomania and needs immediate treatment. That, at least, would add some flavor to the whole experience, which is overwise frustrating, to say the least.