Mid-Manhattan LibraryStores and restaurants are closing in New York City, unemployment is up…and the New York Public Library is expanding its hours. In an era when “closed” is the most common sign you see; “open later” is certainly not expected. And yet a huge demand for its services has the library system expanding hours at 10 of its city locations. They include the 96th Street Library (112 East 96th Street (212) 759-0908); the Grand Central Library (135 East 46th Street; (212) 621-0670) and the Mid-Manhattan Library (455 Fifth Avenue; (917) 275-6975.) The latter, for example, will now be open from 8:00 am-11:00 pm Mondays-Thursdays. The New York Public Library will now be open an average of 52.5 hours a week. The last time libraries offered so much browsing time? The economic crisis of the 1970s. Why the huge demand? People are always looking for refuges in times of economic downturn, not to mention a bargain--even better when it’s free. And many libraries offer services like employment counseling and the use of computers, plus free DVD rentals--especially important when people are cutting back on entertainment like going out to dinner and a movie. The 10 branches can be found in all five boroughs (the library’s website, nypl.org, has the full listing and complete hours.) So grab a novel and settle down for a while; at the moment, it’s the best deal in New York.