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Central Library: The Stuff of Our Lives

According to Stanton Hudson, library use waxes and wanes throughout a person’s life.  We learn how to use the library when we’re young, leave it when school is done, come back when we’re parents of young children, leave again, and come back as seniors – for the most part.  But when the economy is down, library use always climbs.

Hudson would know; he is the deputy director for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and, along with a full and competent staff, charges himself with knowing who comes through the door and what he has to offer them.  After spending the better part of an afternoon there recently, it became apparent that the library has quite a lot to offer.  
Hudson says that much of the excitement and change at the library is due to the directorship of Bridget Quinn-Carey, a visionary who anticipates community change and tailors library functions to suit the masses.

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Customer service: 
As a way of enriching the community, the library participates in “The Big Read”.  This year, the featured WNY book is The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald.  With a National Endowment for the Arts grant of $20K received this year, the B&ECPL will partner with Just Buffalo Literary Center as one of 269 other libraries, educational institutes and cultural organizations who will focus on the book.  In addition, the library’s fundraiser in September (details coming) will be Gatsby-themed, with a lot of special transformative touches.  Did you know Fitzgerald lived in Buffalo twice in his life?
The library is ready for book clubs with their Book Club in a Bag for children and teens and recommendations and guides for adults.
A glance at the library calendar shows that they cover all sorts of community enrichment programs with other local entities that tackle issues such as literacy with “Read to Succeed,” and introducing children to science with “Branched Out” through the Buffalo Museum of Science.
In addition, they also offer computer training courses and a “Workforce Development” program for those looking to improve their skills and job-seekers.
Special collections:
Mark Twain, Copernicus, Galileo, Shakespeare’s first 4 folios and Audubon’s Birds of America.  The library holds 198 rare first editions known as the Milestones of Science, the first publications of the discoveries of the world’s greatest scientists, a collection that exist nowhere else.  Read more here, and understand the need for the library to make suitable viewing arrangements for these rare and priceless treasures so that more can enjoy them.
Food and comfort:
After talking about rare collections and educating the community, Fables Cafe may seem trite, but “treat” is more like it.  A fine cafe anywhere, its presence at the library means that you can stay longer, refueling quite nicely between explorations.  Fables may end up being one of your favorite parts of this day trip that will make you lose track of all time.
As an added bonus, the library will allow patrons to rent out the cafe for parties.  
Built-in amenities:

What’s left after books, music, movies, computers, rare collections, a museum shop and a great eatery?  A beautiful auditorium.  With its own entrance, this is also rentable space for meetings and gatherings.  For a while, BR writer and friend Jerome Lindberg was showing free movies in the theater space, and now we’re thinking about partnering with the library to hold BR community forums there.  We have some ideas, but if you tell us what you’d like to talk about, we may get on it even sooner.
Whether you’re at the gala, poring over a book, or having a bite to eat at Fables, you have to admit, the Central Library is worthy of its own place on the list of attractions to Buffalo.  As libraries go, its so much more than most.  Did we mention the food?
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