If you're driving by Burton Barr Central Library and think, "By golly, I think I'll check out a first-run DVD tonight!" — uh, no. Barr's by far the largest repository of municipally owned intellectual property in the state, and the Phoenix library system's flagship is a victim of its own excess. Everybody knows it's the best, so it's not anymore, and the new-release section looks like a wheat field after a locust invasion.
On the other hand, we — and by we, we mean Maricopa County residents — are beneficiaries of Scottsdale's bounty. If you live in the county, you can get a Scottsdale library card. If you get a Scottsdale library card, you've just scored quality time with some highly desirable flicks. There are two ways to go about this: 1) Walk cold into any Scottsdale branch (Civic Center, Arabian, Palomino, or Mustang) and you're a lock to walk out with at least one new release; 2) create an online account and place holds on those new issues you're dying to check out, then pick 'em up a group at a time to save gas. For its relatively small size, Scottsdale purchases an insane number of movie titles — typically 50-plus copies for marquee releases — so the selection is fabulous, and you can conserve those precious slots on your Netflix queue for the rarer, cooler stuff that only Netflix stocks.