I lived in Waco for one year after graduating from Baylor in 2014. I worked as a high school world geography teacher, but I quickly figured out teaching would not be my forever career. I moved forward with a plan to attend law school, and consequently began studying for the LSAT.

I studied from home plenty, and I studied from coffee shops some. But I spent a the bulk of my time studying for the LSAT at the Waco Public Library. I think I remember my mom taking me to public libraries occasionally when I was pre-school age and maybe the summers between school, but I had not spent any time in public libraries since then. I decided to go because 1) it was a few blocks from where I was living and 2) it was just renovated and re-opened the summer before, and I figured I would make use of the city resources.

When I went in for the first time, I was blown away! I wondered why I/ people I associate with didn’t spend more time in public libraries. There’s free Internet, free books, and free movies. Beyond my needs, I saw what a great resource it is for communities in general. More people than I ever realized use public libraries as their primary source for books, news, Internet, or just air conditioning. Since Waco, I moved to San Antonio to begin law school and have visited several local libraries to study.

Pretty soon into my library habit, I figured out why a lot people don’t go to public libraries. For one, I generally (like most people) don’t want to sit at a table with people I don’t know. A few times I shared a table, and I didn’t study very well. Also, not everyone in a library is there for the same purpose. Many are there for their kids, and their kids act like kids do. Most libraries have a quiet section, but it usually has only three or four tables (which you’ll end up sharing.) Newer public libraries tend to look the same inside, too. They go for the exposed ceiling/air duct vibe, which is fine. It’s better than ceiling tiles. But they also all use light-colored woods tones for all the shelves and tables. Then they carpet it with ugly blues and lime greens with  ugly designs. The carpet is always complemented with round, uncomfortable matching furniture. As the quality of environment can really influence my ability to think, the aesthetics of library design are important to my library experience.

I’ll use those common criticisms (seating availability, general noise/distraction, and design) as a starting point for my analysis of the public libraries of San Antonio. However, I’ll let the nuances and intricacies of each individual library guide my discussion. I will also try to touch on aspects that may not be important to me, but may be important to other people, such as kid’s area and programs, number of computers, and outdoor space. I’ll write each review while sitting in the library, as to provide as full experience of the library as possible.

Thanks for reading! I hope this encourages you to make use of your local public library.