April 2020: Between the Shelves Special Edition

Our last newsletter came out a mere 6 weeks ago. What a difference 6 weeks makes! At the end of February, we were busily planning for Booked for the Evening, our annual fundraiser, set for April 4. We were so excited about sharing this event with our donors. Like so many other fundraisers, sporting events, concerts, and more, Booked was cancelled just a few weeks before it was scheduled.

I am reminded of the opening words of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” The worst of times needs no explanation as COVID-19 sweeps through our country and community, destroying lives, careers, and businesses, and disrupting educations.

How could it be the best of times, then? I think of New Yorkers and people in many other cities, coming out to their balconies every evening, cheering and clapping for the healthcare workers in their communities. I think of our great state, Oregon, lending New York State 140 ventilators at a time of dire need. And in Eugene, among many other examples of hope, I think of our public library, opening digital access to ALL Eugeneans while (physical) schools are closed through the end of the year and the public library doors are closed as well.

In these positive acts, the human spirit reveals itself as an expression of goodness and an inspiration to all. In this time of darkness and suffering, I still look to my local library as a source of comfort, compassion, and as always, learning.

Please enjoy this special edition of the Eugene Public Library newsletter. Read about donors Eleanor and Tony Mulder, and Eleanor’s commitment to our community. Find out how libraries around the world are creatively keeping themselves relevant in the time of COVID-19 in ways reminiscent of the past. What are Foundation Board members reading?

What are you reading? We’d like to know – what book or library resource has kept you company during this unprecedented time? Let us know at info@eplfoundation.org 

We at the Foundation are grateful to the library for all it does for our community. We are equally grateful to you, our donors, for helping us to help the library accomplish its mission.

Wishing all of you good health,
Ellen Todras 
President

As we’ve moved Foundation operations and meetings to our laptops and homes, we have remained connected to and appreciative of the active community surrounding the Eugene Public Library. With the shelter-in-place order, the Library has opened its virtual doors to the entire Eugene area and made digital library cards free for all during the Library’s temporary closure. This vision for broader inclusion and access to knowledge during a crisis is one of the ways our Library stands out as a leader and beacon in our community. 

Since joining the Foundation three months ago, I have continually been impressed by the dedication and compassion of our supporters. Over the last four weeks, I have seen our community value connections and resilience in the face of what previously would have been an unimaginable new way of life. As advocates and patrons of the Library, I am proud to stand with you (well, virtually, and by practicing safe social distancing). 

We have been working closely with the Library on our Public School Access Initiative and remain committed to raising funds for all public school children in Eugene to access the Library. This is a priority for the Foundation despite our annual fundraiser, Booked for the Evening, being cancelled. We believe that Library access in the fall for youth will be even more critical with a longer, more dramatic learning gap over the summer. To read more and support this initiative, please click here

I want you to know that the Foundation is here for our donors, patrons, and the Library in this uncertain time, and appreciate all of the support and inspiration you continue to provide. 

Outside of remote work, I’m enjoying my stack of Lucky Day books, the Imagination Library books being delivered monthly to my little one, and looking up digital resources on DIY renovation and gardening for my new home. 

In community, 
Reed Davaz McGowan
Executive Director


National Library Week is April 19 to 25th! What better way to celebrate National Library Week than with the Eugene Public Library?! Our Library is truly the heart of our community. Follow the Foundation and Library for special content and to show your love of the Library throughout the week. This year, the theme is Find the library at your place.  


Tuesday, April 21st is National Library Workers Day.  We encourage people to take to social media to share your appreciation for the Eugene Public Library workers on Tuesday tagging the Foundation and Library and using #NationalLibraryWorkersDay.We want to show our gratitude for all of those that keep our Library going day in and day out, both virtually and in-person.  We love our Library and all the people who make it the best!

What’s your Eugene Public Library story? Submit in the comments of our posts, through your own posts with tags so we can find and share them, or email us at info@eplfoundation.org.

Trivia Night -Join our virtual trivia night on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 at 7pm! Share your wide-ranging knowledge and raise funds for the Public School Access Initiative, while competing for prizes (and bragging rights). Join as a team of 4-6 people, or as an individual to be matched to a team. Invite your friends, sign up, and have fun! The event will also have a live feed for people to watch, cheer, and support the Foundation. Register here!

Public School Access Initiative Video Premiere – June 5, 6:30 p.m. – Right now, our aim to connect every public school child to knowledge and information is even more critical. Join us virtually as we share perspectives from key community members on our Public School Access Initiative. Details to be announced soon.

The Library that Dolly Built – Week of Sept. 21 – “The Library That Dolly Built” will premiere in fall 2020, celebrating Dolly’s journey and the partnerships she made along the way to build the Imagination Library.

The Imagination Library Luncheon – Sept. 24, 11:45 a.m. – The sixth-annual Imagination Library Luncheon will take place the last Thursday of September. Join us in celebrating this wonderful program that has brought more than 200,000 books to children in the Eugene community. Details and plan for event under social distancing requirements to be announced soon. 

Friends Book Sale – We wanted to share a link to the note from the Friends regarding the cancellation of their annual book sale benefitting the Library. They put it best by sharing their appreciation of the role of our Library in our community, and the many volunteers, donors, and Friends who contribute each year. 

Giving That Inspires introduces you to a Eugene Public Library Foundation supporter. This month’s profile features Eleanor & Tony Mulder.

Tony Mulder, and his late wife, Eleanor Mulder, have been great believers in the value of knowledge and lifelong supporters of the arts and sciences. Upon moving to Eugene in 1969, the Mulders immediately became library patrons at both the Eugene Public Library and University of Oregon library system. Their home had a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which allowed their children to develop their inquisitive natures. Even with that resource in the house, however, the Mulders were avid library-goers.

Before Eleanor passed away in 2018, she had always been very active in civic and political matters in Eugene. After their children grew up, she got her Masters degree from the University of Oregon and worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. She served on a number of committees and commissions, including the Budget Committee and the Planning Commission. Governor Kitzhaber appointed her to the Boundary Commission, and she was deeply involved with the League of Women Voters. She donated blood more than 500 times in Lane County!

Tony and Eleanor recently made a legacy gift to the Foundation, in appreciation of which there is a commemorative plaque at the reference library area. As per Tony’s request, Eleanor’s name is first as an exemplary citizen of Eugene for almost 50 years.

LaVena Nohrenberg is a Customer Experience Manager at the Eugene Public Library. She wears many hats in this role, but you may see her enthusiastically greeting patrons on their way in and out of the library. Moving to Eugene in 2007, she loves being a part of the arts and culture scene in the community.

Are you a native Eugenean? If not, what brought you here?
I was raised in Southern Arizona and moved to Oregon in the early 90s. I went to college outside of Portland at Pacific University and fell in love with what Portland had to offer. I loved the access to natural resources and the cultural opportunities, like live music and theater. As a young adult I wanted to be intentional and thoughtful about where I lived my life, and I made Portland home. In 2007, my husband and I relocated to Eugene to be closer to his family.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Eugene?
In Eugene, I still have easy access to beautiful, natural settings, like the rivers and the parks. I also still have access to arts and culture; the live music, theater, and museums. It’s also nice to be close to family members.

What kind of relationship did you have with the library throughout your childhood and adolescence?
The library has been interwoven throughout my entire life. In my hometown we didn’t have a public library at one point, so my mother started Friends of the Library locally so we could have a public library in Sierra Vista, AZ. She’s still on the library board there. As a kid, I spent multiple days a week in the library. As an adult, the first thing I do when I move somewhere is go to the library and get a library card. I’m a big reader, movie watcher, and music listener, and I get all of my resources from the library.

When did you start working at the library? What is your role?
I started working at the Eugene Public Library in 2009 as a Customer Experience Manager. I’m the only one who has had this role, because it was created in 2009. When the position was announced, I was the chair of the Friends of the Library board. The role sounded like the perfect blend of my professional skills. I had a background in public relations and managing volunteers for nonprofits. My role at the library is a big connection point between the library and its patrons. I have the pleasure of managing a number of aspects that relate to the experience we as a library are offering to our patrons. I get to manage the feedback from patrons everyday, whether it involves areas of improvement or praise for the library. I actually enjoy hearing what issues arise between the library and patrons because it allows me to explain to them how we do what we do, and why. Sometimes they bring up good ways to improve, and sometimes I get to help patrons better understand how the library operates.

Aside from that, I also manage statistics for the library so that we can better tell a story about what we do. It doesn’t sound glamorous, but it’s important for the stories we tell about the patrons we serve. My role also manages the facilities and custodial crew so that we can operate to the best of our ability, as well as managing the rules and patron code of conduct. The patron code of conduct is designed to explain what rules are needed in order to keep our patrons and staff safe, and allows us to serve the Eugene community.

I also manage the volunteer programming for the library. We have a few hundred people as partners, in addition to the Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library. All of that community support is vital for us to be able to provide the level of service that our community appreciates and needs. We have a wonderful volunteer coordinator on staff and I get to support her and her roles.

All of my duties apply to all three locations.

What is your favorite part of working at the library?
The libraries have always represented for me a place where everyone in a community can come together and have equal access to resources. It’s the equal access to education, information, entertainment, and inspiration with no barriers. The library serves a diverse population in our community, and it allows us to collect so many different perspectives and talent of people. It’s really cool to work in the middle of that.

What is your favorite memory of working at the library?
I am blessed all day every day with interacting with other staff members, and I get jazzed about their dedication to our mission. I get to have regular interactions with our patrons saying hello and telling them to have a good day. It’s hard to pick just one memory, because there is so much good and hope in the world within the person to person interactions I get to have every day at the library. I’m feeling even more grateful for those interactions now that I’m not able to be at the library, because I’m working from home.

How have your days changed since the library closed due to COVID-19?
I can tell you the library is still here and serving people, phones are still being answered by staff, patrons are being helped with finding things in the library catalog, and people are still able to get help with library cards and internet resources. We’re trying our best to continue providing as many resources as possible to our patrons.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I like interesting family stories, because family is important to me. It was an interesting perspective about if we could see into the future and use the information we could see, would we want to or not? It was interesting.

In the midst of our state’s stay-at-home order, Imagination Library books are still being delivered directly to mailboxes across Eugene (and the world). Their arrival couldn’t be more timely as caretakers are looking for age appropriate activities, distractions, and a few calm moments. This month’s books include: Tale of Peter Rabbit, Eat Pete, The Night is Yours, The Rabbit Listened, Just Like My Brother, Corduroy’s Shapes, and Baby! Talk!. 

Dolly Parton, who founded the Imagination Library in 1995, has also used this time to create “Goodnight with Dolly.” She reaches children in their homes by reading books from the Imagination Library collection via live video streaming from her bed on Youtube every Thursday at 4pm for the next 7 weeks. It’s cute, quirky, and fun to see Dolly connect with children. 

Imagination Library is still enrolling and engaging children from birth to their 5th birthday. The first book delivery takes 6-8 weeks to arrive, followed by books arriving monthly. The Eugene Public Library processes enrollment and the Foundation is proud to raise 100% of the funding for this program. It is always free for participants!

The Seed Library is one of the many ways Eugene Public Library supports sharing resources by providing an opportunity for gardeners of all levels to donate and collect seeds. Mindie Marsh, the Library’s lead staff member working on the Seed Library, developed the idea with her team while acting in capacity in Adult Services. Seeking an innovative way to create exchange within the community, Mindie looked to her previous knowledge of a seed library in Tucson and began to think of what it might look like in Eugene. She researched potential models through visiting different libraries and understanding how each community made the concept its own. 

The Seed Library uses a “take one, leave one” honor system due to the expense of the Eugene Public Library’s method of using security tags for check out. Other seed libraries, such as the libraries in Clackamas, use a barcode system that allows for less expensive scanning and cataloguing. As a result, the Library is still developing methods for tracking usage. Having the honor system in use makes the Seed Library a resource for those who do not have library cards in addition to library card holders of all ages. 

Eugene, as a true gardening community, has embraced the Seed Library. Housed in a vintage card catalogue cabinet at the Downtown Library with modest tabletop stations at both Sheldon and Bethel branches, the Seed Library has been active since its launch in January 2020. Around 300 people attended the inaugural planting event, and seed donations have arrived at all branches through community donations and donations from Adaptive Seeds in Sweet Home, Down To Earth Garden Center in Eugene, Jerry’s Home Improvement Center in Eugene, and Territorial Seed Company in Cottage Grove. 

Mindie considers the community that is being built by the Seed Library’s participants as a fundamental benefit to the project. She shared, “People who don’t have a lot of money, but have gardened for a long time have a new way to contribute to the community.” There is freedom to experiment because access to new seeds is free. With the Library having resources for gardening and landscaping, there are natural connections to books for all ages and gardening levels.  

Over time, there is hope to expand the Seed Library through increasing educational programming, exchanges between branches, and taking advantage of the natural gardening season transitions throughout the year. Participants will be able to share photos documenting seeds sprouting and growing, and share recipes after produce is harvested. Through leaving notes, instructions, and personal experiences with specific seeds at each location, participants will be able to share their recommendations and give encouragement to further connect with each other, too. 

Mindie anticipates the Seed Library growing its collection as people learn more about the project and begin to save their seeds to share each year. As well, partners such as Eugene’s Parks and Open Space Division and others in the gardening and landscaping realm are able to contribute native plants and in-demand seeds such as watermelon. Eventually, Mindie would also like to establish a demonstration garden as a resource for the Library’s community. 

With the planting season underway now, we encourage you to share pictures of seeds that are growing in your gardens from the Seed Library and plan ahead to save seeds to contribute to the exchange upon the reopening of the Library. 

The Seed Library Website 

Information on Saving Seeds 

Instructions for Checking Out & Donating Seeds* Please note that the Library is not accepting seed donations or check out during the temporary closure. 

Modern libraries, including Eugene Public Library, have risen to the challenges posed by COVID-19 by opening their digital catalogues and bringing vast educational and entertainment resources into our homes. During the 1930s, various public works projects sought to achieve a similar goal by physically bringing books to rural Americans.

The Civilian Conservation Corps, the work relief program that employed millions throughout the country during the 1930s, had camp libraries at worksites. These libraries held approximately 50 books each, on subjects ranging from mysteries to natural science. Academic and vocational resources were popular, as were the adventure stories of Zane Grey. Similarly, Mary Utopia Rothrock, Coordinator of Libraries under the Tennessee Valley Authority, devised a plan to include “toolbox libraries” near where workers received their daily tools. Workers could check out both nonfiction and fiction, as well as children’s books to bring home to their families.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) also included initiatives to increase access to books in rural Appalachia and other areas. In the 1930s access to public libraries for rural Americans was dismal compared to those living in cities. The WPA sponsored bookmobiles, tiny log cabin libraries, and libraries in general stores and other public spaces. Perhaps most unique, under the Pack Horse Library initiative, librarians, most of whom were women, rode out on horses and mules at least twice monthly to bring books to rural areas throughout Appalachia. As the program gained prominence, book donations came in from all over the country. Soon, the available titles included not only books, but recipes, sewing patterns, and more. By 1937, the initiative served 50,000 families and 155 public schools. Although the program ended in 1943 along with the WPA, the benefit of access to books and knowledge is everlasting, both in Appalachia and today.

Special thanks to Sharon Reed for sharing her pictures of the Alexandria Library in Egypt. If you would like to share library pictures from your travels, please email info@eplfoundation.org.

The doors are closed! The book return turned off! For me there may be no more tangible symbol of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic than the library’s closure.  

Library staff is working hard behind the scenes,preparing the building for when thelibrary reopens, and making online library resources more available and accessible. Here’s a sampling of what’s happening online at the library: 

… and that just skims the surface. It’s all free with your library card.

And of course, Library staff are available by phone, 541-682-5450 or email, to chat or answer your questions. 

We’ll all be learning a lot in the coming weeks about ourselves, about each other, our community and our country. May the Library be your guide!
Julie Whitmore, EPLF Board Member

In news that will likely surprise no one, your Eugene Public Library Foundation board and staff members are book people. Here is a snapshot of the book some of us are into right now.

Ellen Todras – I am reading a compilation of New Yorker articles called The 40s: The Story of a Decade. It includes some of the great writers of the 20th century describing some of the most dramatic events and people. For example, in one essay Lillian Ross sardonically describes movie moguls’ and actors’ capitulation to the Red Scare in the late 1940s. I got the book on sale at J. Michaels Books, and right now they will deliver to your house!

Renee Buchanan – I am reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. With no appetite for my typical diet of news, commentary, and economics podcasts, I’ve been able to listen to audiobooks through the Eugene Public Library. Hooray for Hoopla! Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore follows Clay, a laid-off silicon valley web designer who finally finds a job as the night shift clerk at a peculiar bookstore. The selection of books for sale is small and very limited. However, there is a large number of old, dusty books that eccentric “members” check out. Clay is instructed to note every detail of each “member” from their demeanor to the buttons on their jackets. One day, Clay gets curious, and finds himself sucked into a world of intrigue, codes, and secret societies. He enlists the help of his techno-friends to find the solution to a 500-year-old mystery.

Sally Claycomb – I am re-reading I am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley. It is the fourth in a murder mystery series about an 11-year-old in 1950s England who is very into chemistry and murder. I love re-reading books, but I allow myself to re-read murder mysteries only when I cannot remember who the killer was anymore.

Sarah Coates – I actually picked the same book as Renee (Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore), but in the interest of being interesting I’ll share another that I’m reading. It’s called The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater. Mainly the book is directed at the under-ten set, but I think it can be fun to see how the younger folks read. The storyline is more or less about what the youth get up to after hours in 1960s Chicago.

Reed Davaz MacGowan – I am ready to dive into Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow. It’s sitting on my new mantle waiting for me. Without knowing that the library was closing, I was also fortunate enough to also grab three “Lucky Day” books to look forward to reading and a stack of excellent children’s books to keep my little one occupied. My favorite of those is Nobody Likes a Goblin

Michael Dunne – I’m reading What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr. In this thriller, Rose finds herself in a nursing home, told that she has Alzheimer’s, but she doesn’t believe it. When she stages her escape she faces a new conundrum: how to convince anyone she does not have dementia?

Matt Keating – I’m in a Philip K. Dick mode. I re-read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and then recently dove into A Scanner Darkly.

Ashleigh Maier – I recently finished reading Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I was initially hesitant about it because it’s written in the style of an interview, but the story was so compelling. It’s a story of a rock-and-roll band who formed in the 1970s, and is loosely based on the history of Fleetwood Mac. While it seems like a story about music, it’s much more about complicated relationships with others, oneself, and substance abuse. I highly recommend it. It’s the best book I’ve read in at least two years.

Hans McKnight – I’m currently reading Summer of Night by Dan Simmons. I’m still in the first half of the book, but I was hooked after chapter one! Summer of Night is the first in a series of horror novels. In it, five young people find horrifying things happening at the old Central School. The detail of the old school house painted such a creepy picture that every time I read about it in the book, I instantly feel like I’m there.

Will O’Hearn – I am reading How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy By Mehrsa Baradaran, which is about inequalities in the banking and credit systems of the US between low and high income citizens. I’m also reading Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association by Terry Pluto. This book focuses on the now-defunct American Basketball Association, and how it influences the basketball we play today. You might remember the ABA best by the red, white, and blue balls they played with.  

Jane Olbekson – I am re-reading John McPhee’s Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process. I really loved this book the first time I read it. I’m also reading Selected Poems by Derek Walcott. What a genius! However, I’m not a literary snob, so who knows what I might read next? 

Lisa Rubenstein Calevi – Reading Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby. I picked it up mostly because I liked the cover but I’m finding Irby’s commentary equally delightful.

Sarah StoecklThe Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. This is the third and final volume in Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” trilogy, focused on Thomas Cromwell, his rise and fall within the court of Henry VIII. This novel, like its predecessors, combines historical escapism with contemporary symbolism. Plus it’s full of sassy, witty banter and political intrigue! I’m also occasionally dipping into poems by Adrienne Rich, Ranier Maria Rilke, and Mary Oliver.

Julia Whitmore – I have been listening to The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See. This is a novel about Korean Haenyeo, female free divers who harvest from the ocean and are breadwinners for their families. The story spans the 1940s to 2008, and is a tale about fortitude and friendship. I checked this book out from the library using the e-audiobook app OverDrive. 

I have also been reading The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World — and Us by Richard Prum. This book unpacks a raging debate among evolutionary biologists. On the one side are traditionalists, who see evolution solely as adaptation by natural selection, a.k.a. survival of the fittest. On the other side are scientists like Prum, an ornithologist. Prum believes (and Darwin himself believed) that mate-choosing for aesthetic reasons, particularly by females, is an independent driver of evolution. Not only do the strongest survive, but so do those deemed the prettiest by prospective mates. Warning: the chapter on duck reproduction is X-rated, and brutal! Duck males cause a lot of trouble. 

Madison Wilson – I am currently reading Bright We Burn by Kiersten White, which is the last book in the “And I Darken” trilogy. It’s a story of survival set during an alternate history in the rise of the Ottoman Empire. I’m nearly finished with it and have greatly enjoyed each book in the series. The detail in these books is amazing and the characters are very well-written. The female protagonist is a force to be reckoned with and full of depth. I have enjoyed every minute of these books!

Happy reading!

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The following people have recently been recognized by our donors with a gift in their name to the EPLF. We are grateful for our donors’ thoughtful and generous support.

In Honor of  
Erich Mohr
Elaine Mohr
Daniel Aaron Krow

In Memory of  
Charles Stephens
Matt Mohr

Meredith Vayle Burch
Laura Amarys

David J. O’Neill

Staying connected with our community

Dear Eugene Public Library Foundation community, 

For many of us, the shelter-in-place requirements and social distancing orders have forced our lives to come to an almost complete stop.

We are incredibly proud of the Eugene Public Library and the City of Eugene for meeting the challenge that our community faces by making digital library cards available to all living in the Eugene area, even those outside City limits, throughout the duration of the Eugene Public Library’s closure. 

Today, the need to connect people to online and digital tools for learning has never been more crucial. The Library offers a truly vast amount ofeBook, Audiobook, Movie, and music resources digitally as well as a curated selection of subscription-based services through the Library’s Info Hub

This means increased access for children living outside of the incorporated City who attend public school in Eugene. With the ongoing closure of all schools throughout our community, we believe library access is even more vital. Digital access for these children and youth during the Eugene Public Library’s closure will provide them with supplemental learning and resources as they navigate this uncertain time. At a time when it feels as though normal life has halted, we must remember the active imaginations and curiosity of our children haven’t stopped, and never should.

  Read more about our work with the Eugene Public Library, 4J School District, and Bethel School District to ensure that when children start school this fall, those living outside of incorporated Eugene continue to have access equal to their peers.   

We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We are grateful for the support you provide for the Eugene Public Library Foundation and the beacon of our community, the Eugene Public Library.

In community (from my living room), 
Reed Davaz McGowan
reed@eplfoundation.org
(541) 338-7018