Granted, we as citizens are accustomed to a hefty share of complaining and general dissatisfaction in virtually all levels of our government. Budget crises and overall mismanagement of municipal and federal resources are the norm these days, and it seems that no one has any plans to change the course for the better. There is one area of government, however, that I have been using as a trusted and reliable resource for some time now, and it never fails to disappoint. It's the library.
Yes, the library. Here in Chicago we are extremely fortunate to have a library system that is both functional and technologically up to date. Gone are the days of pulling out rows and rows of index cards to attempt to find your next tome to attack. Instead, all one needs to do is visit their local library branch and apply for a card. Once you have that in hand, visit the Chicago Public Library website at http://www.chipublib.org, log in and search for the next book on your to read list. Place the book on hold, and in about 4-6 business days, that book will be waiting for you at your local Chicago Public Library local branch to be picked up. It's simply magical.
Now some may argue that the collection of titles available to check out pales in comparison to the current bestsellers at Amazon or the other big book chains. My experiences in that regard tends to pour cold water on that theory. A recent example would be the newly released autobiography of Jimmy Connors--it was released on May 13, and is readily available to anyone with a library card in the city of the big shoulders.
Since Chicago is my place of residence and my home library system, I'm not sure how the Chicago Public Library would compare to those in the adjoining suburbs, but my inclination is that those in the suburbs might be even a bit more efficient just based on size and scale. Leaner and meaner might mean that citizens get their book requests processed a bit quicker than us big city folk. More good news for reading lovers.
An extra added bonus that I have discovered through the use of this process is that it will convert you into a much more efficient reader. How many times have you heard about a terrific read from a family member, friend or colleague and you immediately have it delivered to your home through a mega website, only to find it laying in a pile months later, still uncracked? The due date on your library book acts as a ticking countdown clock so as to spur you to the finish line.
But don't just take my word for it, get out there and try it for yourself and judge the results. And while doing so, rejoice in the absolute stellar level of efficiency of this often overlooked sector of everyone's government. We all certainly deserve something that works better than advertised, don't we?