We’re living in an age of technological wonders that make it seem like there’s just an infinite supply of free information and entertainment at our fingertips. And while it’s certainly true that we have more options when it comes to how to purchase and consume media and information these days, with smartphones, tablets, and even smart watches offering new vectors, it’s easy to forget that none of it is free, really. Even if you stick with free eBooks or free accounts on Spotify and the like, you’re paying for all that content in some way, whether it’s through carrier costs or membership fees.
Aside from costs, an increasing difficulty of modern life is a lack of curation and guidance. There’s all this stuff to read and listen to, but how do you cut through the stuff you don’t want to get to the stuff you do want—stuff you might not even know exists?
The answer to all of this is right here in town, even though it’s often overlooked: It’s the Hoboken Public Library.
Personality Goes a Long Way
When it comes to our little library, a common observation is that the librarians on staff there are a little curmudgeonly from time to time. While this can be true, they’re also dedicated and helpful folks who give the place a little character. The trend in many municipalities (like Jersey City) is towards making the public libraries more like shared work spaces than libraries, with a focus on Internet access and meeting spaces and a more corporate (i.e., outsourced) feel. The Hoboken Public Library, with its landmark old building and sometimes unamused staff remains an old-school library in the best of ways.
Content in Every Form
The library is a perfectly modern place, of course, and does offer the Internet access, computers, and printing services (members can print for free, by the way—and there’s free WiFi, too) that the modern world needs from its libraries. But there’s still a focus on the printed word—on magazines and newspapers, which can be leafed through for free, and on books. Since the library is a member of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS) and has a robust Overdrive eBook collection, there is hardly a book, DVD, or music CD you can get your hands on in some way in a few days or less. The only thing better would be an infinitely large library that had a physical copy of everything, which is probably not realistic.
Aside from computer access, meeting and research spaces, and the actual books and media assets they offer (at no cost), the library also has a robust schedule of events. These includes tons of things for kids to do on the weekends and after school as well as book clubs open to anyone to join, scientific discussions, and events like Wellness Wednesdays to improve your overall health.
Finally, the library offers something that’s absolutely priceless: A quiet, calm space. Come there to read, to work, or just to sit and relax, reading some free newspapers. Although the hours sometimes change, the library is open 7 days a week, and is one of those incredible local resources that gets forgotten—but shouldn’t be!