Tuesday, October 02, 2012

"I Have Always Imagined that Paradise Will Be a Kind of Library"

In light of the upcoming vote here in Oregon's Multnomah County on establishing a permanent library district, I'm writing a short series about Portland's Central Library for The Oregonian. I still remember my first visit to the place. It was eight years ago, on a trip from out-of-state. Having come from a municipality where, thanks to citizen apathy, libraries were mostly decrepit facilities from the ancient '60's (with dilapidated collections to match), I was wonder-struck.  

My first dispatch as self-appointed library Writer-in-Residence posted on The Oregonian website this morning. (Two more online installments will follow in the next two weeks, with the whole thing going into the Sunday paper toward the end of the month.)
... Encamped at tables and inquiring at Info, the patrons were as variegated as the library collection itself -- people of all descriptions, ages, ethnicities, and interests. They sauntered in slowly, looking to kill time, or they beelined to the Holds. They pushed a walker or trailed a speedy preschooler. They brought their homework or just idle curiosity. A few carried laptops, many a canvas tote. Among them were Portland natives and arrivistes. Some undoubtedly worked for the city, some in industry, and some slept last night on the street. Some had come for leisure. Others were here to search online job listings via a library terminal. Still others were learning English or cramming for their GEDs. There were 30-50 in the room, but only when someone sneezed did I realize how quiet it was. ...
Read the rest.