I love our library. It’s comfortable, and there aren’t nearly as many vagrants loitering in it as there were in Chicago’s Blackstone Library, my childhood ‘berry. Austin’s North Village Library is missing the grand neoclassical columns of the Blackstone, but it has giant skylights and hybrid car parking and is just generally sunny, airy, and welcoming. It’s so sunlit, in fact, that there are solar panels on the roof that link to a readout inside the building showing how much energy the library has been able to sell back to the grid.
It’s small, our library, but the Austin Public Library system lets you request books from any of their branches and have them delivered for pickup, so I use it more as a conduit to more extensive holdings across the city.
It takes about twenty minutes to walk there from our house, mostly along not particularly picturesque Burnet Road. Today was surprisingly hot (though the calendar insists it’s fall); it’s 85 and sunny right now. Again and again I found myself wishing that the city codified sidewalks, as I turned my ankle on a divot or kicked up a cloud of dust on a scraggly roadside patch of barely-hanging-on grass. Austin likes to think it’s a city, but until I can walk on sidewalks in my North Central neighborhood or grab a crosstown bus more often than every 30 minutes, I won’t believe it.
At least I have my little oasis of a library.