Lost in Manhattan: One Library and One Post Office

NYPL Battery Park City Branch
Text and photos Copyright © 2011 Stadium Circle Features

How do you lose an entire library? What happens when the postal service can’t find its own post office? Just call them lost in cyberspace.

Blocks from each other in lower Manhattan is a New York Public Library (NYPL) branch that the library system’s new smartphone app didn’t know about and a U.S. Postal Service location that the USPS website can’t find.

The NYPL recently released iPhone and Android smartphone apps that allow library users to manage their accounts, reserve books, check on fines and otherwise make good use of the library’s many online resources. To use the new apps NYPL users need to register with the library’s new online catalog.
The apps also provide listings of the NYPL’s branches, which are spread out over Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island. However if you were one of the first to download the new Android NYPL app and wanted to locate the Battery Park City Library, guess what? It wasn’t listed.

The listing jumped from “Allerton” to “Baychester” with nary a mention of the airy Battery Park City branch, which opened last year. 

The temporary oversight was ironic since the Battery Park City branch is one of the most cyber-friendly public libraries in the city. The branch, located at 175 North End Ave. at Murray St., offers free Wi-Fi across its two floors, 36 public computers and plenty of desks with top-mounted AC outlets for laptops.

Fortunately an update which appeared in the Android Market Wednesday addressed a number of bugs, including the branch listing, which now includes every branch, including Battery Park City.

While the updated NYPL app was able to locate its library, the recently freshened-up U.S. Postal Service website doesn’t seem to know about a small, but useful Automated Postal Center (APC) site located just south of the World Trade Center site.

Nestled in a small storefront at 88 Greenwich St. is an APC location with lots of tabletop space for preparing packages and a single APC kiosk providing self-service postal services. There are many post-office-based and standalone APCs, which look like bank ATMS, scattered around the city. However, while the APC locator on the USPS.com website can locate most of them, this one is invisible.

Even if you enter “88 Greenwich St.” in the box that pops up after using the “Find USPS Locations” link on the USPS website–making sure to change “Post Office Locations” to “Automated Postal Centers”–the USPS website directs you across Manhattan to a post office at One Peck Slip more than half a mile away. Other suggestions listed by the locator included an APC site across the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey and another across the East River in Brooklyn. Rowboat anyone?

Will the USPS website ever deliver the 88 Greenwich St. APC? Stay tuned: I have an e-mail in to the USPS media relations office.

Text and photos Copyright 2011 
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
USPS.com website image Copyright 2011 USPS

Wi-Fi: Sometimes free, not always easy

A free wireless Internet connection can be pretty handy when you’re out and about town or traveling. Finding it is sometimes the hard part. Why pay up to $30 a day for Wi-Fi when free–and legal–connections are easy to come by?

Take a look at my piece in the Your Money section of the March 3 issue of the New York Daily News.

If you have some tips of your own, let me know. Thanks.