Monday, July 9, 2012
It was a long time coming, and now that it’s here, it’s quite a disappointment.
Of course, I am referring to the spanking-new West Hollywood Public Library.
As expected, when the doors were thrown open wide earlier this year, the facility turned out to be quite a showcase - visually – at least.
Since WeHo bills itself as the “creative city”, it was obvious from the get-go that the focus would be on aesthetics, art, style, and what-have-you.
But, from a functional point of view the Library fails in many respects and is ultimately a disaster. In fact, some of the oversights are so glaring, you have to wonder if the “designer” even graduated (or attended) architectural school.
For starters, patrons are greeted at the front entrance with a series of ultra-steep steps that are a potential hazard to even the most able-bodied. In the alternative, guests have the option of taking an elevator (provided they can find it). The lift is tucked away in the rear of the building somewhere (so they tell me!).
Once inside the building, patrons are then forced to struggle up two more flights of stairs, constructed of hardwood (which amounts to a slippery slope for an individual not wearing the correct shoe with any traction to speak of) in the event they wish to avail themselves of the services on the second level.
If a senior citizen or disabled person is inclined to use the elevator, they are forced to trek down a long narrow hall to the back of the library, where a cramped postage-sized elevator that barely holds two people awaits the adventurous at heart.
And, God forbid, a male on the austere premises should have an urgent need to relieve himself in the restroom due to a weak bladder (or for having downed one-too-many brewskies the night before).
First, the hapless individual has to track down an employee in order to gain access to the “John”, go figure.
You’d think you were visiting a McDonald's in a seedy neighborhood, folks, where they keep an eagle-eyed vigil over the toilet-paper and hand-soap.
Then, once the patron has finally been “approved” for admittance, hopefully the stall is not in use.
Yes, I said that correctly.
The "Friends of the Library" spent millions of dollars on this swanky-looking white whale, but outfitted the closet-sized bathroom with one lone toilet, folks!
Ludicrous, don’t ‘ya think?
Although the floor plan is fairly spacious, it's been divided up so that is downright fussy and over-crowded-looking, in the final analysis. Maneuvering through the row of bookshelves is tricky, especially if there is an overweight patron in the aisle.
For some inexplicable reason, the staff have also been crammed into a cramped cubicle in two locations on the second level of the building shoulder-to-shoulder.
A satellite station (or two) around the library floor may have been better-suited to meet the demands of the patrons who frequent the hallowed house of knowledge (!). At the existing stations, the staff are busy picking their noses, kibitzing with each other, checking their e-mail, and what-have-you. When it comes to assisting a patron, well, they're as slow as molasses in January.
In fact, for the most part, the staff (a slew of 'em with all the personality of a worm) are a snobby lot who look down their noses at the book lovers.
Just betcha, there was a lot of politicking behind-the-scenes (nepotism, favoritism, palm-greasing, etc.) to land those jobs, eh?
But, the biggest joke of all, is the computer service provided gratis on an hourly basis for members. The software is so ancient that it boggles the mind to think that they spent big bucks on the library, but neglected the essentials, such as state-of-the-art computer equipment.
For example, the screens on the PC's freeze up every few minutes or so. And, the software program goes haywire if the computer is rebooted.
Forget about taking on a major research task in this environment. Patrons are lucky if they can rustle up one window to work in - and that's a fact - no kidding! On the occasions I have tried to do some research there, I was only able to access one window at a time!
Who bought (and set up) this junk?
The West Hollywood Library is a great place to get a gander at the renovated Pacific Design Center, check out a book or DVD, or be baffled by an odd collection of inferior art on exhibit - which - ultimately - underscores just how clueless the "curator" was.
Just betcha, that son-of-a gun (or gal) holds one motto true to their heart.
“I may not know what Art is, but I know what I like."
West Hollywood is the city with no taste or even a modicum of practicality or common sense.