Ok, I expect this will require a large amount of code, but what about bringing the library back, now before you start shaking your heads, it would have to be changed, but what about this:
1)add a new stats/skills thing so that there is a knowledge category, this category won;t count for anything more than how you rp.
2)now you go to the library to study, you have a 90% chance of learning about fashion/literature/world history, and a very small chance of actually learning something that would improve your skills.
3)also, keep the library how it was so that you have to be lucky and smart to learn anyway, and so that if you already have a lot of knowledge in something, you can't learn more. this would add to the realism because realisticly you can read a book and learn how to say Arc weld, but no matter how much you learn about it, until you strike and Arc and learn the actual skill, knowing about it doesn't help too much.