UCSD campus, La Jolla
The downtown public library has an extensive collection of local and national offerings. But you have to read the microfilm on cranky old machines in a room inhabited by grizzled old guys. The periodicals room at UCSD's central library couldn't be more of a contrast. The room is clean and quiet, the film-reading machines look fresh and new, and you retrieve what you need out of well-organized file drawers (rather than filling out a form and getting a librarian to fetch it for you). And it's all open to the general public.