On Saturday the 13th, I visited the Central
Library with some friends. Here's the scoop.
To find the Foreign Language section
(mostly English, but a smattering of other languages), enter the main door and
immediately turn right. Go down a little hallway that looks like you're
headed into a staff area; turn left at the end of the hallway, and watch the
signs over the doors on the left. It's before you reach the "Fashion
Collection" on the right, a room full of beautiful women reading up on the latest
designs; stick your head in the door to that room and you may find a
50ish bald guy "browsing."
The magazine selection is surprisingly
good. Most issues of weeklies were less than two weeks old, and monthlies
mainly up-to-date. I don't know if back issues are readily available, but
at least you can keep up with what's (fairly) current. Here is a random
list of titles I found interesting:
National Geographic and National
Geographic Traveler; Current Biography; Travel
& Leisure; Atlantic; Harper's; Time; U.S.
News and World Report; Newsweek; Der Spiegel
(German); China Quarterly; Science; Scientific American;
Rolling Stone; Popular Photography; Sports Illustrated;
Premiere; Boy's Life; The New Yorker;
The New England Journal of Medicine;
Nature; Discover; Wired
Magazine least likely to get you excited: The
Hong Kong Accountant.
The book collection seems in some ways to
have been assembled from some really good yard sales. Novels from the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (and I mean like The Call of the
Drum, circa "MCMVII," by Horace Wyndham "Author of the
King's Scarlet etc."--not Austen or Bronte) sit on shelves with John
Grisham, Stephen King, and Anne Rice. A sample of other authors noticed:
Jonathan Kellerman, Isabelle Allende, H.
Rider Haggard, G.K. Chesterton, Bellow, Barth, Hillerman, Hemingway, Haley,
Irving, Kate Chopin, Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy, Doctorow, Michener, John
D. McDonald (Travis McGee!), Pynchon, Steinbeck, Tolkien
Also noted: 1934's The Texas
Rider, by Buck Billings, "Author of Six Gun Vengeance, etc.";
The Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (!), The Encyclopaedia
Britannica, The Great Books of the Western World (nearly complete), Proust's
There's also a pretty odd
religion/psychology section. I saw Karl Kerenyi's Hermes and Carlos
And how could I have lived without Jean
Hugard's Modern Magic Manual (n.d.)?
And now for the bad news: You can't take 'em
home. It seems a new library is being built downtown, and for some reason,
no new library cards will be issued until the new building opens "around
the middle of next year." But the English-speaking girl at the
counter was sweet and apologetic, and said "You'll just have to come see us
I think I will.