COVID-19 Updates + Booked for the Evening Cancellation

Library from Balcony

March 17, 2020 – Please read additional information about the Eugene Public Library temporary closure here. 

Due to the temporary closure of the Eugene Public Library, Foundation staff will be working off site, and like the rest of our community, observing social distancing. We are available via email at info@eplfoundation.org or:

Reed Davaz McGowan
Executive Director
reed@eplfoundation.org

Madison Wilson
Administrative Coordinator
madison@eplfoundation.org

We will check messages regularly for our voicemail at (541) 338-7018.

We are still available for questions concerning donations, Booked for the Evening, and general Foundation business. 

  • If you would like to donate to support vital library services, you can either mail a check to our address in the footer (Eugene Public Library Foundation, 100 W. 10th Avenue Suite #317, Eugene, OR 97401), or donate online.
  • Follow us @eplfoundation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates, literary laughs, and more.
  • Sign up children 0 to five for the Imagination Library!

March 12, 2020 – This morning we learned Governor Brown has cancelled large gatherings for the next month, and while our April 4 “Booked for the Evening” event technically doesn’t fall under her definition of “large” we have decided to choose the more cautious path. The health of our community is our priority. 

As with all nonprofits that rely on events for revenue, we didn’t make this decision lightly. The bottom line is this: social distancing saves lives and slows the spread of the illness, enabling the health-care system to care for those who need it. 

Since we do not know how disruptive this pandemic will be, or how long it will last, we are considering how to best maintain support for our Library in this difficult time and determine our next steps and timeline moving forward.  

For those of you who have sponsored or purchased tables and tickets for our April 4th event, we are offering you the following options: (1) a full refund if requested by April 1, 2020, (2) a hold of your payment to be honored at a rescheduled event, or (3) the opportunity to make your purchase a tax deductible gift to support our efforts to bring library access to all school-age students in Bethel and 4J districts. Please let us know which of these you prefer.

In this time of uncertainty, our character as a community will shine. The Eugene Public Library Foundation is very grateful to you for your steadfast support. 

Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns about this announcement.

Reed Davaz McGowan, Executive Director
(541) 338-7018
reed@eplfoundation.org

Film Screening: The Library That Dolly Built (4/2)

This event has been postponed. Around the country on April 2, audiences will get the chance to see Dolly Parton’s new film, “The Library That Dolly Built.” This feature-length documentary covers the history, impact and future of America’s largest non-governmental children’s literacy program, Imagination Library, which builds children’s home libraries. Check United Way’s Facebook page next week to see which theaters will be showing the film.

Winter 2020: Between the Shelves

Welcome to the winter 2020 issue of the Eugene Public Library Foundation newsletter! We are delighted to introduce our newsletter readers to Reed Davaz McGowan, the Foundation’s new Executive Director. Reed is a local Eugenean who returned; please look for her greeting in this issue of the newsletter. And if you are in the library, please drop in to say hello at the Foundation office, where Reed and our Administrative Coordinator Madison Wilson work wonders.

Speaking of wonders, our annual fundraiser, Booked for the Evening, is sure to be a wonderful experience. Our theme this year is The Library: Our Window onto the World. What a resource the library is—opening windows to knowledge, exploration, and adventure!

Every year at Booked for the Evening, the Foundation focuses on raising funds for a specific need. This year, we are initiating a 3-year pilot project to fund library cards for all children attending public schools in Eugene. For many living in unincorporated areas, the cost of accessing the resources and programming the Eugene Public Library offers is prohibitive. This unequal access can be as personal as a next-door neighbor or school friend who is able to use the library, while your child cannot. 

Children with access to the programming, books, and other resources the library offers develop a lifelong love of literacy; are exposed to music, authors, and cultural events; can learn to sew and do other hands-on projects; and meet children from all corners of the city and from all walks of life in a safe, nurturing setting. Our goal is to open this access to all school-age children in Eugene by raising funds to cover the costs of library cards for all children attending public schools in Eugene, for the next three years.

I encourage you to peruse the newsletter even further. Read the delightful interviews of our library staff and Foundation donor. Our Libraries of the World section focuses on The Mariano Moreno National Library of the Argentine Republic. And we’ve included an addendum to this section as of this issue. Thanks to Nancy Nathanson, who sent us pictures of two libraries that she visited, we have added an opportunity for other readers to share library pictures via our newsletter.

Wishing you a beautiful spring,
Ellen Todras
President

As I finish up my first month at the Foundation, I am filled with excitement and appreciation from being so welcomed by our Library’s community. Moving from Eugene to Philadelphia to the Bay Area and back again, it feels like a welcome home too. I have a lifelong connection to the Eugene Public Library and am honored to support its role within our community as a center of knowledge and sanctuary for all.

When I was 4 years old, I received my very own library card at the Downtown Branch of 13th & Olive and felt my first senses of both freedom and responsibility. From that point forward, I spent countless hours selecting the perfect books to bring home and explore their stories. With my son now having his own first library card, the Library is a special place for us to share together. 

It is a special place for everyone. Each day that I come into the Library, I am astonished by how many people use the Library and how our donors are incredibly active users of the Library too. There were over 1.1 million visits to the Library last year! 

To share a little more about my background, before joining the Foundation, I was the executive director of Youth Art Exchange, an organization focused on youth arts education and place making in San Francisco. Prior to that, I led the Philadelphia-based Norris Square Neighborhood Project, a cultural education center embedded within the Latinx community of North Philadelphia. I am also a proud alumna of 4J and the University of Oregon. These experiences have inspired my dedication to equity and inclusion that will be intrinsic to my work with the Foundation. 

I welcome people to stop by the Foundation’s office on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Branch and join in our celebration at Booked for the Evening in April. I look forward to meeting you!

– Reed Davaz McGowan

Currently reading: The Sixth Man by Andre Iguodala 
Pictured above: Reed with her son at the Sheldon Branch Library Family Night

Booked for the Evening is a celebration not to be missed! Please join us at Valley River Inn at 6pm on Saturday, April 4, 2020 for an evening of food and drink to support the Eugene Public Library Foundation and our initiative to increase Library access for public school children in Eugene.

Booked for the Evening will feature Honorary Chair Mayor Lucy Vinis, silent and live auctions, performances, activities led by the Eugene Public Library (like the green screen photography pictured here!), and a look into The Library: Our Window onto the WorldLearn more about Booked here.

We would like to thank our sponsors:Lane Forest ProductsMoxie Event PlanningPowers Howard Quimby LLPHershner Hunter LLPGoodwill Industries, Alex & Clare VonderHaar, Summit BankColumbia BankEugene Coin & JewelryRobertson Sherwood Architects, and Roehl & Yi Investment Advisors. If you would like to sponsor Booked for the Evening, please contact the Foundation at (541) 338-7018. 


Giving That Inspires introduces you to a Eugene Public Library Foundation supporter. This month’s profile features Kathryn Weit. Kathryn served as a board member of EPLF from 2016-2019, working on the outreach committee. She has also served on the Board of the Imagination Library

Are you a native Oregonian? If not, what brought you here?
I’m from Wisconsin. My ex-husband was part of Legal Aid Services and we came here from DC in 1974. When we got to Portland, I thought “take me back to DC” but I got a job as a reading specialist at Jefferson High School and eventually worked my way into the community. I’d always worked in low income and very diverse schools prior to that. I moved to Eugene in 2000 when my daughter graduated from high school. I loved Portland but my sister was down here, as was the man who eventually became my second husband. I have an older son with a disability and the services were also much better in Eugene.

What kind of library did you grow up with?
Well, my family lived in one place in the winter and one place in the summer. My father was a canner. So we moved from the town of Portage, Wisconsin, to Pardeeville, north of Madison, in the summer.  These places had two very different libraries and I spent a lot of time in both. I loved to read. The Portage library was across from school – just about every day after school I went there. I spent many summers at the Pardeeville library; I can still kind of remember the smell and the cold linoleum since we never wore shoes inside the library. I remember that it just was a wonderful place to spend a hot summer day. Since I moved away from my school friends each summer, I spent a lot of time there (even working there during high school). I sure remember the funny old librarian there too. She was the type who wouldn’t let you check out a book like The Carpetbaggers (Harold Robbins, 1961) unless you were 30 years old or married. She was a tough old bird, about 5 feet tall, bent over, knew everybody in town, just a real character. Now it’s a regular library, with computers and lots of books readily available.

Sounds like you have some vivid memories of the Pardeeville Library.
I do, and probably also because there was a real family connection. The library was privately endowed, and part of the criteria of the endowment Trust was that no Catholic could ever check out books or serve on the board.  My grandfather tried to break the Trust and was attacked by the Ku Klux Klan as a result! We actually have clippings from the Madison newspaper reporting on his effort to get Catholics equal access to the library and the ensuing attack (and we’re not Catholic). My father became part of the library board in the late 1970s. At the time, the library wanted to join the state system so my father found an attorney and a judge and they broke the Trust since the criteria of the Trust, with its discriminating clause, would have prevented the library from being part of the larger state system. Anyway that’s the library that was dearest to my heart… it was just this very funny place with a long family history. 

Sounds like social justice runs in your family. 

Social justice issues are a big part of my life. Right out of college, in 1969 I did AmeriCorps VISTA [a national service program designed to alleviate poverty, sometimes referred to as the domestic Peace Corps] in a Latino and African American community in Milwaukee. Then I went to graduate school and became a reading specialist – first in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and then in Arlington, VA. At the time (around 1971), the American Nazi Party had their headquarters in Arlington and our school had some fairly significant racial tensions. The party had a white power hotline where you could leave a message, and complaints about our school were often left there—how black kids were doing this, and foreigners doing that. One day someone noticed that some members of this party were in cars circling the school, with guns hanging out the windows. 

When I moved to Portland, my son was born with a significant disability. So my trajectory changed and I became a disability lobbyist in the capital.

What kinds of legislation are you most proud of having had an impact on?

Legislation to support families caring for kids with disabilities in their home, funding for family support and funding for early intervention services. I was involved in several lawsuits concerning the Fairview Training Center – a big institution in Oregon for people with intellectual disabilities. Today, the best practice is of course that people with disabilities live in the communities where their families are [as opposed to being institutionalized] and have support in their own community.

This sounds like much more than a job.

Yes it was. I was part of one of the first Mothers from Hell (MFH2) groups. The groups are called that because we were hell-bent on getting justice and funding support for our children. Social justice issues are what attracted me to the Imagination Library too. For example, I think it’s a real important effort that the Imagination Library is getting kids from Head Start enrolled and receiving those books.

Why do you give to the EPLF?

If you care about social justice issues, the library has to be a major focus. And this is such an incredible library! One of the first things I learned about the Eugene Public Library was about a young Native American woman that we were already familiar with – she had been homeless and been staying with some people we knew – and she was going to the library to use the sewing machine. This is a library that is just such a gift to our community.

I made a donation last year. Then my brother-in-law Maurice Holland [former Dean and Professor Emeritus of the UO School of Law] died. Someone had told me about a saying: “When a person dies, a library burns.” He was so knowledgeable, and had so many stories—well,  I thought that comment was a really appropriate one. So we thought the Library Foundation would be a wonderful place for people to make donations to in his name. 

How do you characterize the strengths of the library?

The incredible diversity – the books, the other resources, the genuinely caring staff who sometimes deal with complicated people. In these political times, it becomes more and more important to have a library – and the way we have one, with speakers, services and of course the books. 

What books are on your bedside table?

I’m reading Susan Orlean’s The Library Book. Also a book about John Jacob Astor. And I’m an absolute mystery nut – that’s my therapy. When life gets a little bit complicated, I do mystery therapy. Dana Stabenow’s books are really good escapes – they take place in Alaska. 

Do you finish a book no matter what?
No. I’ll close a book if I don’t like it.

Kindle or paper?

For my mystery books, it’s Kindle since my bookcases are full. But I like the feel of paper books.

I’m wondering who your favorite literary dinner guests might be?

Louise Penny. Michelle Obama.

That sounds like a fun dinner. What would you cook?

I don’t cook. My husband cooks, fortunately. He’d probably make us a salmon.


Alfredo Tovar is a Library Assistant II at the Eugene Public Library. He is one of the people you might see if you go to take out a library card or renew your card. He also works the checkout counter, deals with fees, greets guests, and says goodbye as people leave the library.

What sort of relationship did you have with the library throughout your childhood and adolescence?
I spent some time in my local library in El Paso, which is one of the state’s best right now. I went there to do reports and homework. I wasn’t there every week or anything, but I did have a relationship with the library. As I started working here, I realized how many resources the library has. I always thought it was just for books, but it’s not just for books. I was amazed. I would come and check out a couple books and not even realize how many programs exist. 

People say that they can find everything on the internet. But there are so many things you can do at the library. You can find information on the internet, but you can’t put your hands on it. And at the library you don’t have to purchase it. There are also so many people with expertise surrounding the library resources who can help you. People don’t judge you here; you can ask questions.

I’m also working with a group called El Grupito, and the whole premise is to bridge the library’s resources with underserved communities. Right now we’re roadmapping how this is going to work and how we can continue outreach to other underserved communities. Right now we’re focusing on the LatinX community. We’re trying to advocate for them to start using the library to better their opportunities, and also better opportunities for the job markets in the city. Hopefully it’ll spur inspiration for them to make their communities stronger for learning and employment later so that the city has a more attractive standing for future investments. We also go to schools to see how we can bridge the gap. We talk to Latin liaisons to collaborate with them and all other types of businesses and institutions to make it a more viable and successful campaign.

When did you start working at the library? What is your role?
I’m a Library Assistant II, so I’m the first person you’ll see if you want to start a library card. If people come from outside the district, I tell them about the benefits that come with paying the fee to use the library. I explain the ways their whole family can benefit from a yearly fee for the library’s educational and entertainment resources. I try to promote the library as much as possible.

What is your favorite memory of working at the library?
When I work at checkout, I always greet people and say, “Have a great night.” Sometimes people will say, “Don’t you get tired of saying that?” And I say, “No, I really want everyone to have a great night.” One night there was a man leaving and I told him to have a great night, like I always do. He looked at me and left, then came back, and said, “You know, you’re the first person to say something nice to me in a while.” It made me feel rewarded. He was able to spend the day at the library, and it might not have been the greatest day, but upon leaving I knew that I was able to help him have a better day. Patrons get to know you at the library as an employee and you get to have such positive interactions.

What is your favorite part of working at the library?

I love being able to interact with people, and to advocate for the library. It’s such a great resource and it makes me feel like I’m contributing to the community by informing them about how many resources are here in the building. It makes me feel good about the city and everything Eugene stands for. I want everyone in the city to know what’s available to them. It makes me feel good to promote a valuable asset and I know there’s a lot of places that have lost their libraries. I’m happy that people in Eugene value education and I want to do the best I can to show that I appreciate my experience working at the library, and help people get the resources they need.

What stands out for you about the Eugene Public Library?

I work with an AMAZING group of people. Everyone is so caring and they bend over backwards to not only give patrons the attention they deserve, but also take care of their coworkers. We have such a diversity of lifestyles, but even though they’re diverse, they all have heart. I work in circulation and everyone I work with has a warmth and support feature that I haven’t had before in a workplace. They genuinely care for their coworkers and the community. I’ve been helped by the generosity and love in my workplace. We always try to help the community as much as we can, and it’s not only in our work groups but it radiates out to the people who come in to use the library’s resources.

Are you a native Eugenian? 

No, I moved here in 2005. I was living in Portland and had a relationship in Eugene. I was working for the city in 2013, but in Fleet Maintenance. I was also working with subsurface. Then I had an accident. I was rock climbing, fell 35 feet, and shattered my back. I couldn’t do the same jobs anymore, but then I found my job at the library.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Eugene?

I love the diverse range of activities you can do outdoors, and the people who are here who enjoy the outdoors and nature as much as I do. Also the conservancy movements helping the environment stay as pristine as possible.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading Blowout by Rachel Maddow. I also just checked out You Can’t Spell America Without Me by Alec Baldwin and Kurt Andersen.

In December, I learned about the Imagination Library from the Foundation’s Board of Directors and immediately signed up my 3.5-year-old son for the program. We eagerly awaited his first book and the day that it came in the mail, I told him that it came just for him. His eyes lit up with excitement. “Really?” he asked me. After I told him that a new book would come every month in the mail, he squealed and grinned. 

Reading has evolved for us as he is old enough to follow more complex stories and relate to characters. We talk about the books that we read over and over again, making jokes and referring to the lessons that we find inside the covers. (Don’t bite mama is a big one.) 

Reading has also become a few moments for us to have together, when our focus is on each other and the pages in front of us. We snuggle on our favorite chair to read and that intentional pause in our day has brought us closer. I am eager to give my son the same foundation and connection to reading that I had as a child too. Read more about the Imagination Library. 

– Reed Davaz McGowan

The Mariano Moreno National Library of the Argentine Republic (Biblioteca Nacional “Mariano Moreno” de la República Argentina) was founded as the Public Library of Buenos Aires shortly after the May Revolution in 1810.  It was part of a larger project in the city designed to enhance public awareness of civic life and bring about change through knowledge. The library’s namesake, Mariano Moreno, a hero of the independence movement in Argentina, was instrumental in the creation of the library by decree of the first Government Junta and became its first director.

The library was originally housed in an 18th-century mansion, then in an imposing building in one of the oldest areas of the city.  It is now located at the site of the Unzué Palace, the residence of President Juan Perón and Evita.  Designs for the new building were completed in 1961, but construction was delayed and the new library was not completed until 1992.  The building’s style reflects its mid-century heritage, when Brutalist architecture produced buildings characterized by simple, block-like structures and exposed materials, such as concrete or brick.

The Public Library of Buenos Aires became the National Library of Argentina in 1884.  The library now owns many collections essential to Argentina’s history. Many of the directors have been key intellectual and cultural figures in Argentina’s history, including several famous authors.  These directors have fostered an institution responsible for recording, preserving and teaching about the cultural heritage of Argentina.

Special thanks to Nancy Nathanson for sharing her pictures of libraries she visited in Baja California del Sur, Mexico and Riga, Latvia. If you would like to share library pictures from your travels, please email info@eplfoundation.org.

The Library helps out the community in ways that might surprise you. Here are some of the exciting projects the Library is working on:
Levy. In November, 2015, Eugene voters approved a levy to help fund library materials, increase access and hours. The Library staff presented an update to the City Council this January on how the library has used funds from the levy. Highlights: an almost 90% increase in teen programming in 2019, and an 11% increase in overall circulation last year, as well as new materials, more access and continued high numbers of daily users. To read more: https://www.eugene-or.gov/3354/Levy-information

Got Seeds? On January 26, the library invited the public to their first Seed Sunday, celebrating the launch of a new seed library. Over 200 people attended workshops on gardening, seed harvesting and took home free seeds. The new seed library is catalogued in a rescued card catalogue, stationed on the 2nd floor near the Singer Room. The library will be working to increase its collection of seeds, particularly for native plants. To find out more, or to make a seed donation, contact: Mindie at MMarsh@eugene-or.gov

Wizards, witches and muggles. More than 700 people of all ages attended the Harry Potter Triwizard Tournament on February 7, which featured a giant maze and, of course, a sorting hat. Library director Will O’Hearn is now officially a Hufflepuff. Plans are already underway for next year’s event.

Got books? The Friends of the Library will take them! The Eugene Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library are separate volunteer organizations which work side-by-side to raise funds for the library. The Friends is a membership organization whose mission is to support the library, primarily by collecting and selling books. Books donated to the Friends are sold in the Prose bookstore (located in the foyer of the library), on their online store, at pop-up sales during the year, and at their big book sale, this year on April 18 – 19 at the Lane County Fairgrounds. All proceeds go to the library. They need more books now! Click for more information.

Mark Your Calendars – April 25th we will be hosting a tour at the Oregon Historical Society VaultTickets will be on sale at Booked for the Evening!

Monthly Library Tours
Library tours are available for interested individuals or groups. Please call us at 541 338 7018 or email info@eplfoundation.org for details. 

Would you like to volunteer?

Volunteers are critical to the success of Booked for the Evening and our ongoing work. We are always on the lookout for supporters who share our passion for the library. For more information, contact the Foundation office: (541) 338-7018 or email info@eplfoundation.org.

Want to receive foundation new in your inbox? If so, you can subscribe here!

Follow us on social media for Foundation and Library news, literary laughs, and more. 

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  

Mark Couet

Monica Wilton

Siri Alexander

Ellen Todras

Freddi Weishahn

Irene Pabo

Johanna Wright

In Memory of

Dr. Maurice Holland

Barbara Bryan

Claire Kelly

Norm & Hazel Smith

Ruth Furniss

Dr. Winston Maxwell

Shirley Allen Tyree

Grace Ward

Betty Dunlap

Irene Junko Stumpf

George Rothbart

Agnes & Robert W. Hilton

David Herrick

Stephen Kessler

Talulah, a beloved dog

Welcome to our new Executive Director

The Eugene Public Library Foundation announced this week that Reed Davaz McGowan, previously executive director of San Francisco-based Youth Art Exchange, has been named executive director of the organization. Davaz McGowan replaces Monica Wilton who recently retired after leading the Foundation for nine years. 

“Growing up in Eugene, I spent much of my childhood at the library exploring and learning,” said Davaz McGowan. “Today, I am incredibly inspired to return and help lead the Foundation that will ensure our library is accessible for generations of children and adults in our community.” 

A Eugene native, Davaz McGowan received her Master’s in Arts Management from the University of Oregon and is returning home after leading Youth Art Exchange and Norris Square Neighborhood Project, a Latinx cultural organization in Philadelphia. In addition to her nonprofit experience, Davaz McGowan is also a multimediadesigner and expert in organizational leadership. 

“We are exceptionally pleased that Reed is joining the Foundation at this important time in our evolution as an organization,” said Eugene Library Foundation president Ellen Todras. “Reed brings a wealth of experience in nonprofit management and a passion for libraries, as well as a unique vantage point as an organizational leader from large and diverse communities. Her broad knowledge of donor development and working with public and private institutions will enable her to help secure an even brighter future for the library and all of its stakeholders.”

Fall 2019: Between the Shelves

PRESIDENT’S NOTE

Dear Friends,

November marks the time of year when our thoughts turn particularly to thankfulness. One of the things I am deeply grateful for is our beautiful local library. As Luis Herrera, former City Librarian for San Francisco Public Library, wrote, “The public library of today, with its commitment to welcoming all who come through its doors, expresses truly American values, providing open and free access to information, knowledge and enlightenment, and transforming the lives of its users.” This so aptly describes the mission and effect of the Eugene Public Library.

Judy Cox (right) and mother, Carol Houde (left), pose with Dolly Parton Imagination Library cutout at the Imagination Library Luncheon

It has been a busy fall at the Eugene Public Library Foundation. The Imagination Library Luncheon on September 12 was a great success, with hundreds of guests celebrating the Imagination Library’s 5th year of operation in Eugene. Our guest speaker, children’s author Judy Cox, inspired us with her passion for and knowledge of children’s literacy. To read Judy’s entire speech, click here.

At the end of September, the Foundation’s long-time Executive Director, Monica Wilton, retired, and Andrew McNall is now serving as Interim Executive Director. Please do stop by the Foundation office to say hi to Andrew, or read Andrew’s article further down in this newsletter. He brings a wealth of knowledge and capability to this position.

It has been a busy year at the Eugene Public Library as well. In fiscal year 2018, the total number of visitors to the three branches of the library rose 10% over 2017, hitting a whopping 1,158,737. WOW. This statistic confirms that the Eugene Public Library is one of the most relevant places in the city. And—back to gratitude—for that we are grateful to you, the Foundation donors, who have helped make the library the gem that it is.

Wishing you all a lovely holiday season, and a good year to follow,
Ellen Todras
President

Giving that Inspires: Tom Kamis

Tom Kamis (right) and wife, Evelina Davidova-Kamis (left), take a selfie on the Black Sea Coast

Giving That Inspires introduces you to a Eugene Public Library Foundation supporter. This month’s profile features Tom Kamis, owner of The Davis Restaurant & Bar, located at the corner of West Broadway and Olive Street. Just a stone’s throw from the Eugene Public Library, Tom and the Davis have been strong supporters of the Library Foundation, to the extent of donating delicious hors d’oeuvres to Foundation events.

Do you remember your earliest experience of a library?
I was probably five years old. I went to the library on the south side of Chicago to read stories to kids. I spent a lot time there through grade school. Then I moved to a different town and school, but I still had books everywhere. I’d either bring home books or animals. My room was just full of books as a child. I still lug around about 20 crates of books from my past.

What brought you to Oregon?
I left Chicago one winter and wanted to get somewhere warm. I was 22, and interested in doing theatre and was planning on going to California or New York but ended up in Arizona. I had serious wanderlust, and moved every season to experience something new for a long time. I’ve lived in 20 different states and 32 different cities. 

At one point, I was a river guide in California and came to Oregon to run rivers and lived in Portland for about a year. Oregon really stood out. The two favorite places I’ve lived, scenery-wise, have been Oregon and New Mexico…and, people-wise, Oregon and Minnesota. But Minnesota is way too cold for me.

How did you get into the restaurant business?
My first job was working for Little Caesars – I was 15 and lied to get the job. I was a waiter for a long time and cooked too. It was easy to pick up these kinds of jobs as I moved around, and it also kept me in the industry.

How did that evolve into running a restaurant in downtown Eugene?
I’d been in Eugene about 13 years and already had a restaurant. I heard a rumor that owners of the then Chinese restaurant [where The Davis is now located] were frustrated with the downtown situation and looking for a way out. Because of my parents and family I have a deep-seated affection for community. They drilled into me from an early age how important it is to be involved in your community. I took “involved” to mean inclusion. Here in Eugene the importance of that has been made really clear to me. One of my first jobs in town was working at Café Soriah – “Ib” [owner Ibrahim Hamide] is so connected to our community. He’s the reason I’m still here in Eugene after all these years. I liked working for that man so much and still go to him for advice all of the time – about anything. He’s my favorite person in Eugene; he’s the example I follow.

How did your support for community and inclusion lead to your involvement with the Eugene Public Library Foundation?
It really just happened accidentally with the library. I’d been involved with DIVA a lot, and had hooked up with other causes that I believed were worthwhile. We helped with dinners here when the new library first opened – in-kind donations and the like — and then it just evolved from there. 

I think the Eugene Library is great. If there’s one thing I could change it’s that I wish more people would use the library! I know that today’s libraries function more like community centers and am aware of all that libraries need to do to survive. But when I think about libraries, I remember how my mother would go and pick out random books for me all of the time. I started reading at age 3 and by kindergarten she said I was reading at a 4th grade level. That is the proudest moment for her.  Still, my sister is the smartest person in the family and she hates reading. She doesn’t even own a book (well, maybe a cookbook). It just baffles me. Every Christmas I buy her a book; she probably gives it away to friends. I wish people would realize what a treasure a book is. I know libraries aren’t and can’t be just about book storage anymore. But it makes me kind of sad. I just wish people would read more!

In what ways have books intersected with your somewhat nomadic life?
I’ve read so many books. Eventually, I got tired of reading about places and wanted to go see them. I love to travel and even want to live abroad one day. 

In every place I go, there’s a sentence, a story, a word that I want to go and see with my own eyes. For example, there’s a book that I read recently about a guy that repairs brass instruments – tubas – in Arizona, right on the border with Mexico. Mexico has an amazing array of brass bands. So the next trip that my wife and I are going to take is to Yuba, AZ.  This book talks about this tuba repair shop there and paints a very quaint picture. I’m sure it’s not like that anymore but I want to see it with my own eyes.  

Do you have a favorite book?
Hands down, Watership Down. Currently, I’m reading a lot of historical books. I don’t know if I really enjoy them or am just learning from them, because I’m getting more and more enraged with each one I read. People leave books all the time in restaurants. It’s happened my whole life, doesn’t matter what kind of restaurant it is. I picked one up about six months ago – Children of the Night by Dan Simmons. I also really like Hunter Thompson’s writing and his life – it’s  so full of everything. My reckless side probably comes from reading him. I like to take chances, and am very comfortable with my life ebbing and flowing as it will. I get that from the books I read.

Do you believe that books find you?
My mom believes that 100%. 

You’re a fixture in our downtown community. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I once got to have dinner with David Sedaris.  A while back, the UO bookstore was sponsoring his visit to Eugene.  I knew a few people there, and said, “I’ll treat him to dinner if you bring him to Café Soriah.”  I’m never afraid to ask. Never be afraid to ask…always throw it out there and see what comes back. Sure enough, he  shows up! 

So there we were: me, my girlfriend at the time, David Sedaris, and his manager having dinner. The only bad part of the meal was that his manager talked too much. I do remember he was very surprised to learn I had a connection to his sister [Amy Sedaris, a comedienne]. When I was in Chicago, I went to Second City and met Amy there and we were in an improv group together for about one minute!

Anyway, when I saw him in person, it was the first time I ever felt starstruck. Every book he’s ever written I’ve read five or six times over. 

Library Staff Spotlight: Maureen Campbell, Custodian

Maureen Campbell has been employed as a custodian at the Eugene Public Library for two and a half years. She is multitalented, with impressive oil painting and woodworking skills. With a background in Geology and Environmental Science, Maureen has a love and passion for nature and the outdoors. 

Are you a local Eugenian?
I was born in New Jersey, then moved to Houston at age 9. I attended college at the University of Wyoming and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geology. I moved to Eugene in 1984 to pursue a Master’s in Environmental Studies, focusing on Watershed Resources. After I completed my Master’s degree, I worked for the Forest Service in the Willamette National Forest as a hydrologic technician, and then a district hydrologist. After leaving the Forest Service, I designed and built handcrafted furniture before working for the city, doing landscaping on downtown blocks and throughout Eugene.

What are your experiences with the local public library during your upbringing?
I actually started out studying forestry in East Texas, then switched to geology. I love the natural sciences and being outdoors. That’s why I pursued those subject matters. Geology is absolutely fascinating. Going to libraries comes with the territory of being a student. There are a lot of technical documents and instruction manuals that come from the library that I needed to succeed as a student.

When did you start working at the library?
I’ve worked here for about two and a half years. My goal was to work for the city and I had a connection with someone who worked downtown who suggested working as a custodian for the library. I knew I would have good benefits, and this job has a lot of variety and keeps me physically active. I get to meet a lot of people and talk with them around the library.

What is your favorite part about your job working at the library?
I really enjoy meeting new people, talking with them, and being able to stay active every day.

What is your favorite memory from working at the library?
One of the coolest things at the library was to listen to people play the piano under the trees outside the library and have their beautiful music intermingle with the sound of the rustling leaves above.

What stands out for you about the Eugene Public Library?
There’s a wide variety of people who use the library, so it’s fun to get to see people who I haven’t seen in a while out of the blue. Libraries have changed a lot in my lifetime, having DVDs and music, and all of the different programs offered for kids and teens. It’s also a shelter for the homeless population who need a place to be during the daytime when the weather is inclement, or even just a place to charge their phones. I think that’s a really important aspect that the library is helping to share. Computer services are also important for those who cannot access the internet at home, or may not have computers. I think it’s also important to be positive and friendly with the whole community, specifically populations who don’t always get a positive interaction with others out in the world. It’s important to be a friendly worker bee to everybody and put positive energy out into the world.

What is your favorite thing about living in Oregon?
I love being an hour from the coast and an hour from the Cascades. I love the beauty of the area, as well as the people who live here.

What are you reading right now?
I’ve been reading Alexander McCall Smith’s series on the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” It takes place in Botswana. It’s fascinating to hear about the country and people. It’s also an easy pace and the stories he shares are interesting since it’s a man writing about a female dominant character and the relationships developed in the books are from a unique perspective. I like to read action and adventure books, but I also collect art books from a variety of different oil painters throughout time. 

Meet Andrew McNall, Interim Executive Director

Greetings patrons and supporters of the Eugene Public Library. It is a privilege to serve as the Interim Executive Director of the Eugene Public Library Foundation.

First, I want to say thank you to Ellen Todras and the Foundation Board for offering me the opportunity to serve in this role. And, a warm thank you to Monica Wilton as well for the outstanding work she has done for the Foundation over the past nine years.

You should be tremendously proud of what your investment has accomplished at the Eugene Public Library. Because of your faithful support as donors, the Library offers the community a wealth of resources, many of which I have discovered myself for the first time: A Maker Hub with a wide array of tools, equipment and materials; a Media Lab for all kinds of sound and recording productions; literacy programs for children, teens and adults; and, author readings open to the public.

In just a short time, the Library Foundation has grown to the point that it contributes about $500,000 annually in supplemental funding to the Eugene Public Library. Your gifts are making a huge difference to literacy, creativity and innovation inspired by the resources our Library can offer. I hope you will continue to stay engaged with us as we have new and exciting projects underway that we look forward to sharing with you in the coming months. If it’s not already on your calendar, please plan to join us at Booked for the Evening on Saturday, April 4, 2020 when we announce these plans.

Once again, I am grateful for your commitment to making the Eugene Public Library a special place for our community.

With heartfelt thanks,
Andrew McNall, Ph.D.
Interim Executive Director

Our Library: Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes, the library helps out the community in ways that might surprise you. Here are some of the exciting new projects the library is working on:

– A New Mission. Many of the library’s patrons overlap with the people to whom the Eugene Mission provides aid. In order to improve services, we are teaming up. The library and Mission staff are working together to partner on programming and offer activities tailored to people who not only need shelter at night, but places to go during the day. Popular events: a duct tape wallet workshop, and a healing yoga class. Like all library offerings, these activities are open to the public, and as a result have become a bonus opportunity for people from all walks of life to mingle and get to know one another’s stories. 

– A Mobile Desk. Look for new assistance in the Media Section of the library. Because large numbers of people use the Media Section, a new librarian desk has been added near this section of the library to help patrons who need it. The desk will be staffed during busy hours to support folks who need help during that time.

– No Fines for Kids. Libraries across the country are discovering that fines for overdue books don’t work as intended. Rather than motivate patrons to return books on time, fines tend to discourage people from returning books, and sometimes from checking books out at all. To counter this, the Eugene Public Library is instituting a no-fine pilot program for young adult and children’s books. Sign up for the library eNewsletter here to get the latest details. 

Libraries of the World: Bodleian Libraries

The Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University are celebrated all over the world for their beautiful architecture and vast collections of manuscripts and books.  Every 14 seconds someone visits one of the libraries, which together hold over 13 million items, including such treasures as the Magna Carta, the Song of Roland, a Gutenberg Bible, and the letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley.  

Though the current Bodleian Library dates back to 1602, the first library at Oxford existed as far back as the 14th century. At the turn of the 17th century, Sir Thomas Bodley revitalized that library, which was beset by lack of funding, anti-Catholic fervor, and the bane of all libraries, unreturned manuscripts.  By 1620, 16,000 items were in the collection, including a book in Chinese.  To further expand the collection, in 1610 Sir Bodley made an agreement with the Stationer’s Company, the exclusive publisher in England at the time, that the Bodleian Library should receive a copy of every book published.  This agreement, along with many donations from generous  benefactors, meant the library collection expanded exponentially over the next four centuries. 

The collections now occupy five buildings, including the 15th century Duke Humphrey’s Library, the 17th Century Schools Quadrangle, the 18th Century Clarendon Building and Radcliffe Camera, and the 20th and 21st Century Weston Library, as well as off-site storage. The library remains a “legal deposit” library, and receives a copy of each book published in the United Kingdom.  Materials may not be removed from the libraries, but must be examined in one of the reading rooms – a rule so strictly enforced it even prevented King Charles I from checking out a book in 1645.  

Today, the Bodleian Libraries group includes the original Bodleian Library, as well as 27 other libraries across Oxford.  The public can access the vast collection online, or visit the library itself and register as a reader, provided they are willing to make the following declaration: 

“I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”

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 – 
Bob Nelson
Victoria Coates
Nicola Luka Coltrane
Kathie Wiper
Harper Grace Schneider
Susan Parker

In Memory Of –
Joyce Osternig
Louise Dean & Helen Keyser

Julia Snell
John Crumbley
David Herrick
Lorraine “Dixie” Stovall Woodside
Goldie Scott
Martha Merritt
Diane Norelius
Claudie Danonville
Donna Johns
Dr. Edward F. Wilson
Ellen Galson Ritteman

For a complete list, or for more information on naming opportunities, please visit us online.

Thank you, Cressey Family Charitable Trust

We are grateful to the Cressey Family Charitable Trust for their partnership in supporting learning and literacy building for youth of all ages. Thank you for your grant of $10,000 in 2019, and for your support of Eugene Public Library’s Homework Center and all online resources dedicated to students’ academic success as well as outreach to eligible Imagination Library preschoolers.

Library After Hours  –  A great success!

Library After Hours was a one-time benefit event that took the place of Booked for the Evening in 2019. For $100 per person, guests enjoyed hearty hors d’oeuvres, passed wine, a champagne bar and dessert. They had private access to library services such as green screen photography, virtual reality, robotics, circuitry and more. Thank you to author Cai Emmons who shared some of her creative process and information on Publishing. Her endorsement of libraries was timely and enduring. Mr. George Buss, our nation’s leading Abraham Lincoln, came from Illinois to bring our beloved 16th president to life. His reading of the Gettysburg was a moving reminder of a remarkable time in our nations history. Thank you all for your support of literacy building in Eugene through programs at Eugene Public Library.