Yesterday marked the grand opening of the newest public library branch, located at Mulberry and Jersey Streets in Soho. Today, after the crowds had dispersed, we sent Joshua David Stein and movieman Richard Blakeley to get the goods on what promises to be the best place to get a cheap date in Manhattan since Dean and Deluca opened up in 1977.

Conceptually libraries are a much more appropriate place to pick people up than say, McNally Robinson, the nearby, overly clean and far too quiet bookstore. At a library, the whole point of the thing is that you breeze in, check out a book, take it home for the night, and return it the next day. Compare this to the predominate ethos at a bookstore where you shell out for a volume before you read it, then are saddled by the thing until you either guiltily "lose" the book at the gym or shelve it up next to those Castaneda books you were into in high school.

The interior of the library expands downward from the ground floor to basements and sub-basements that, happily, don't feel claustrophobic. There are easy chairs and tables and sofas. And you can be sure the romance section (176 Dewey Decimal, yo) will be well-stocked.

Mulberry St. Public Library