- you can put books on hold without going to the library or calling the library, because you can do it online!That immediately, of course, improves the library situation to a faretheewell. This is how I was able to procure the two French police procedurals I desperately needed to read, and without buying them. Of course, having read them, now I have to buy them. In fact, I've ordered them already, but that's really another story.
- you can check the books out without talking to a librarian, because they have a scanner dealio. And then, you can get a printout of the books you just checked out. Without talking to a librarian. (This reminds me of when singing son had spent some time at a university library, and had this pithy observation to make: "There are two kinds of librarians: nice ones, and mean ones." I will leave you to guess which kind he had encountered in the temple of learning.)
Anyway: besides the internet reservation system, and the robot phone lady, and the scanner dealio, the best thing about the library is finding books you didn't know about. For instance, a new Icelandic book, which wasn't as good in some ways as the other Icelandic books I was reading, but was still interesting and worthwhile. Or a book on the Middle Ages that makes the engaging argument that new archaeological evidence shows that the era was neither Dark nor an Age (discuss). Also, this book set in Laos, a detective novel and political thriller and ethnography and I don't know what all.
In addition to the latter two, which I am currently in the middle of, tonight we stopped at the King's English to buy books for two granddaughters. While there, I picked up a book and another book, both by my friends. I've started them both and they're both splendid. No reason not to proceed in this parallel fashion. The only one I think I might not finish is the Middle Ages one--unfortunately, the thesis seems to be the whole book. But I might finish looking at the pictures.