So I just got back from Christmas in Nashville a couple of days ago. While I was there I convinced my mom to take me to the new main library downtown. I had seen bits of it on their website but wanted to take a look for myself.
Oh. my. God.
It's just too much! For our library's expansion, much debate was had over whether we wanted to have soda vending machines for the public to use. At Nashville Main, there is a boulangerie where you can get pastries, hot meals, soups, salads, fresh bread... now you can't take the stuff into the library part of the library, of course, but still. And there are all of these great big tables with reading lamps and data ports and electrical outlets at each seat so you can take your own laptop in and use it wherever.
AND they have self-service checkout stations EVERYWHERE, not just at the front desk. And they have self-service reserve shelves, so the patrons just walk up and pull theirs from the shelf. There is an info desk next to the hold shelves, so people who can't find their materials can ask for help and the staff person can keep an eye on people peeking at what other people have out (when I was looking at the hold shelves the guy at the desk was keeping an eye on me).
Nashville Main has always been known for its children's programming. There is an art/storytime room and a puppet theatre that I didn't get to look at but the marionette display outside of the puppet theatre is AWESOME.
And they have the Nashville Room, where the serious researchers go. It smells like a library in there, lots of very old books and the Banner archives. I could have spent all day in there.
My library system is very progressive for its size, but going to the new Main Library in Nashville reminds me of how small my system is.