Today, a friend sent me the poem “Bookmobile” by Joyce Sutphen. Allow me to share the last few lines with you:
“…I pace back and forth in the line,
hungry for the fresh bread of the page,
because I need something that will tell me
what I am; I want to catch a book,
clear as a one-way ticket, to Paris,
to London, to anywhere.”
Ahhh…the library—the crossroads between our inner worlds and the outer world. Throughout this time of pandemic, the Eugene Public Library has adhered to state guidelines and simultaneously strived to provide the access to knowledge and entertainment that the community wants and needs.
Please check out the delightful articles in this newsletter too. You’ll enjoy getting to know donor Linda Ettinger, as well as Bethel library assistant Michael Bradley. And do read about the breathtakingly beautiful Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, in the Libraries of the World column.
We are also pleased to introduce to you three individuals who have recently joined the Foundation Board:
- Rosa Chávez-Jacuinde works as the Associate Director in the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence at the University of Oregon.
- Brittany Mattice is the Foundation’s Student Member. She is finishing her master’s degree in Nonprofit Management at the University of Oregon.
- Becca Puleo works at the University of Oregon and is pursuing her master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning.
You can find out more about these and other Board members here. And speaking of comings and going, we are sad to say goodbye to Matt Keating, who has been on the Foundation Board for more than four years, but we are delighted to see him join the City Council. We are sure he will make great contributions to city government there. Thank you, Matt, for your service!
2020 is finally coming to a close. The end of the year carries many traditions. Among these is the global generosity movement known as GivingTuesday, held this year on December 1. GivingTuesday shifts the holiday focus from consuming to giving. We hope you will consider the Library Foundation as you plan your end-of-year donations, either via GivingTuesday or our year-end appeal. Your gift is entirely tax-deductible and goes toward making Eugene Public Library the vibrant and valuable institution that it is.
Wishing you beautiful holidays and good health, from all of us at the Library Foundation,
Ellen Todras, Board President
Letter from Reed
Throughout the past 5 months, I worked alongside many of you as you mobilized the campaign to renew the 5-year library levy as volunteers, donors, and advocates. When voting, our community came together to show resounding support for Eugene Public Library. Over 76% of Eugene voters supported the levy renewal with 70,705 YES votes.
Earlier this fall, we also saw our community coming together in support of literacy. September marked the 6th annual Imagination Library Fundraiser. While it looked very different this year, we still raised nearly half of the annual cost of the Imagination Library program. We also joined together with other library supporters for the virtual EUG Parade, which included pictures like this one of my son and me.
This summer we were devastated at the loss of the O’Brien Memorial Library in the Holiday Farm Fire, which had been the heart of Blue River’s Community for nearly 100 years. In October, we dedicated our Trivia Night to raising funds for the O’Brien Memorial Library and were able to send them $1500 as they plan the future of their library.
Finally, we are so excited to partner with library staff to pilot a program to distribute wifi access on-the-go with funding from our Innovation Fund, which is a designation of special funds for 2020-2021 to engage community members in new ways during COVID-19.
Reed Davaz McGowan, Executive Director
Giving That Inspires: Linda Ettinger
Giving that Inspires introduces you to a Eugene Public Library Foundation supporter. This month’s profile features Linda Ettinger, who spent three decades as a University of Oregon faculty member.
What is your earliest recollection of a library?
When I was really little, we lived in New York City. My mother was a German refugee. There was some — what the Nazis called — “Jewish blood” in her family history. Though she was the last kid to be kicked out of school (due to having one-quarter “Jewish blood”) she was getting beat up. Her parents said that’s it, we’ve got to get out.
Her family came over on one of the big ocean liners. German schools were more advanced so when she was put into high school in New York it was too easy for her. Plus, it wasn’t a safe or necessarily good place to be for someone with a German accent at that time.
When they were first married in New York, my parents were a cartooning pair. My dad wrote the gags and my mother was the artist. They did hundreds of cartoons! I remember that when I was young, and sick in bed with the flu or chicken pox, as a special treat, I got to read the cartoon roughs. My mom would load up the roughs — what I guess we’d call originals now — and shop them around to magazines like the New Yorker. She was always the only woman in the waiting room with a portfolio.
When I came along – well, we had no money. But I can remember being wheeled into the NYC public library in a stroller. At the time, there wasn’t the kind of kid-focused programming you have nowadays. I remember those Little Golden Books – we always checked out those at the library. But there just weren’t a lot of kids books. Still, I remember being fascinated with the building, and all the books inside. Going to the library was a very impressive outing.
As you grew up, did libraries remain a big part of your life?
I was a good reader in school but as my parents would tell me, I was also a huge talker. I always gravitated towards libraries. As an undergraduate, I worked in the SW Missouri State College (now University of Missouri) library and slide library. I was comfortable in libraries.
My first real jobs were in libraries. I worked in the Belleville, IL Public Library for a while. Then I ended up on the West Coast. My father was born in San Francisco, but I didn’t know any of his family. So I started looking for work and the first place I went was the San Francisco Public Library; they hired me that same day. I wasn’t a librarian, but since I’d worked in my college library, well, I could check out books and do other technical stuff.
One day this man came up to the library’s front desk and asked me, Is your last name McGurk? I told him no and he said, Well, you look like my grandmother. The next time I called my folks I told them that story and my dad laughed. He said, Your grandmother’s maiden name is McGurk! I’ve always regretted not knowing that because I might have struck up a conversation with a relative. But this was the 1960s and they gave us strict instructions not to engage with the public at the library!
What brought you to Oregon?
I eventually came to the University of Oregon to do a PhD and became an academic. For years, all my reading had to do with my professional work. I didn’t do a lot of other reading.
When my daughter was born (she’s 30 now) I read to her a lot. I loved the kids’ books that were available when she was a kid. That was my only other connection to reading other than academic reading. I also volunteered at her middle school library for three years, and that was a great joy too. Again, it was library, library, library. I’ve always been drawn to the library. I really think it was because of the early days – just being overwhelmingly impressed with the building of the New York City Library. And there always were really nice people in libraries.
After reading all kinds of different books for and with my daughter, I decided academic reading wasn’t the only kind of reading there was. So I changed it up and started reading mysteries. Then I decided I would only read English women detective authors. I did that for a lot of years because it helped me stay grounded. Reading always pulled me away from my professional stuff and other kinds of life challenges. I joined a book club a couple years ago and that really expanded my reading genre. The other thing I love about the book club is that I get to talk! I have a fascination with words. I’m doing some editing for a friend who writes books. I write a lot of haiku.
Haiku sounds like a really peaceful practice for turbulent times.
It’s become a great format for me to translate what I’m thinking and feeling in my life. It helps me focus. It’s a great mindfulness tool. I also write haiku with my friends. I’ve just started reading Basho, The Complete Haiku – it has beautiful artwork. Basho is known as the saint of haiku.
Can you describe your ideal reading experience?
I don’t use online libraries personally that much but I’m a real fan of the audio book. When I “read” my books I get audio versions, put my earbuds in, stand up at my work bench and make origami boxes. Those kind of evolved after the haiku. I fold paper, and listen.
Have you been to Japan?
No, but maybe in a previous lifetime something happened. One of the friends I write haiku with now sent me some initially. I’ve just become so taken with the form. For me, it’s just a wonderful way to narrow down all the talking and constant talking and have to focus into the essence of things. It seems to fit other things in my life that are important now.
Why do you support the Eugene Public Library?
One of the things I’m most pleased with in seeing the evolution of libraries in general is the way the Eugene Public Library has evolved into a community support center. There are reading programs for all ages. It’s a places for all people to be. You can look things up. For heaven’s sake, you can even take a nap. Libraries are public support spaces, even social work spaces. I’m very pleased how this has all evolved.
Do you have a favorite book or genre?
I still really enjoy a mystery book. My book group recently read Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, a Polish author, and it’s absolutely fabulous. It’s a mystery, but a really, really strange one. Sometimes I read biographies. I was just looking at Jimmy Carter’s biography the other day, just to remember the good old days!
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. What three authors do you invite?
David Sedaris, Olga Tokarczuk, and Dame Ngaio Marsh, a New Zealand crime writer.
Do you ever seek out libraries when you travel, and if so can you share any that have been particularly memorable?
Yes! The Vancouver, BC Public Library is another one of those gorgeous buildings.
Library Staff Spotlight: Michael Bradley
We recently caught up with Michael Bradley, a Library Assistant III at the Bethel Branch of the Eugene Public Library. Hailing from Michigan, Michael has followed a cross-country path to follow his passion for the resources and community that can be found in libraries.
Are you a native Eugenean?
I am not from Eugene originally. I’m actually from Michigan. I grew up in the Jackson area, and went to Central Michigan University for undergrad. I got my Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and then worked in Whitehall for seven seasons doing summer theatre. I worked as an actor and director there for a few years, and then it just kind of became something I didn’t want to pursue all the time. That’s when I started a theatre group for children with my wife, and we ended up starting a nonprofit for a youth ensemble in Kansas. We started our organization on the basis that anyone could join if they wanted. We didn’t want there to be any barriers for finances or previous experience with theatre. We ran it for three years and had a really great time.
We started doing more work with arts nonprofits in Lawrence, Kansas, with community art shows, and through that work we started getting hired for story times and workshops with the local library. Soon after, we both started working for the public library and realized that it was an amazing career that emphasized the need for resources in the community. So we both started working on graduate degrees in Library Science. My wife ended up getting a job offer helping open a library in Boise, so we moved there and happened upon Eugene from driving to and from the coast. We had been told that Eugene was vibrant and fun, and there ended up being a job opening that was perfect for my wife. We moved about two years ago and I started working at the Eugene Public Library about a year ago. It’s cool that there’s an ethic and principle at all libraries and much of the work is similar nationwide.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Eugene?
I love the community. I love how open and diverse people are, and I like the weirdness and Eugene-ness of everything. No place that I’ve lived has been like this, and it’s been a very unique place that has all of this natural beauty. I love going outdoors to go biking, hiking, or play in the snow.
There’s also a really awesome thing going on with world-class artists, and there’s a lot going on all the time in terms of activities in the community. We live really close to the library downtown and it’s always so lively. There’s such a wild feel. It takes a little while to get used to, but it’s just so much fun and constantly unpredictable
What sort of relationship did you have with the library throughout your childhood and adolescence?
I learned to read really young, but not through the library necessarily. My mom was just really focused on reading to me and helping me learn how to read. She shared books with me and made them a big part of my life. I didn’t really start going to the library until I was probably in grade school. In Concord, Michigan, we had a branch library that was really small, and still operates today. But as a grade school kid, I figured out that they had a computer with a floppy disk drive, and you could ask for games from the librarian. There was a game called MJ vs. Larry Bird, so I went there to play that game. I didn’t check out a lot of books from the public library, I got them all from the school library. But I really liked going to the library to play computer games. Using the school library was my biggest library experience, but I started using public libraries more in college when I realized what kinds of resources were available for me to use.
When did you start working at the library? What is your role?
My first role was as a contractor doing Family Music Time on Saturdays and hosting story times as a substitute for the regular staff, for a year. I was hired about a year ago as a Library Assistant III, so I help people at the front desk.
I’ve been told you’re on a committee that is working on an Innovation Fund Grant, which is from the Foundation’s designation of special funds for 2020-2021 to engage community members in new ways during COVID-19 . Could you tell me a little bit about that?
We are working on purchasing a number of wifi hotspot devices that are portable that will be enabled with internet access for up to 10 devices. They are part of a pilot project that will be distributed to partner agencies (community agencies and nonprofits) that serve underserved, marginalized communities. So these will be distributed to nonprofits and agencies that work with these communities in order to be given to clients who may need internet access. This pilot project will give us information and data to see if we want to expand to more of the public through the library.
What is your favorite part of working at the library?
My favorite part of working at the library has changed a lot since the pandemic. Right now my favorite thing is being here for the public and having the doors open. I was on the phone all the time with people who were wondering when we were going to open, because not only did they want to use our resources, but they also used the library as a source of human interaction sometimes. I really value getting to chat with people and create regularity in their lives by being someone they can talk to. It means a lot to them and to me. Having these interactions go away made me realize how grateful I am for the experience of helping people feel like they have a home at the library. It’s just a really unique space to build community, especially right now.
What is your favorite memory of working at the library?
I think everything seems to come down to the fact that things have been so different recently. A big memory I won’t forget is reopening the branch after being closed for 6-7 months. When we started seeing our patrons again, it just felt like we were getting something back. Doing curbside holds and opening up the library was really exciting. It was really memorable to me, and it’s something I’m really proud of as a part of the staff team. Determining what we were going to do was hard, and making it happen was a great feeling.
What stands out for you about the Eugene Public Library?
The biggest thing that stands out to me is that we’re a city department, and a lot of libraries aren’t like that. When I think of the library, I think of the city. The administration and the way it’s managed is so focused on the wellbeing of its workers, and I think that’s rare. How the city takes care of our physical and mental wellbeing, and the resources available to us as employees is pretty remarkable. I’ve never seen that at other libraries. They usually govern themselves and it’s incredible to me to have such an involved city establishment.
Libraries of the World: Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading
The pale limestone exterior of the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading (Real Gabinete Português de Leitura) belies the jewel-toned walls of books towering three stories above the ground floor of the reading room in central Rio de Janeiro. The institution was originally founded in the first half of the nineteenth century by a group of Portuguese immigrants and political refugees. Their goal was to promote Portuguese culture in the capital of the newly independent Empire of Brazil.
Emperor Pedro II laid the cornerstone of the current building in 1880 and it was completed in 1887. The library’s architecture reflects and speaks to its Portuguese heritage, from the Lisboetan stone facade inspired by the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, to the historical figures carved into the stone. Inside, light filters through a stunning red, white, and blue stained-glass window in the ceiling, from which hangs an ornate golden chandelier. The walls are lined with colorful books and covered with lavish decorations.
The library houses the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal, and includes rare works dating to the sixteenth century. The over-350,000 volume collection continues to expand, as Portugal sends approximately 6,000 new titles each year. The collection also includes paintings, manuscripts, and proofs, making it an important depository of Portugal’s history.
In recent times, Portugal has honored the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading by making it an Honorary Member of the Military Order of Christ, Commander of the Order of the Order of Benemerence, and an Honorary Member of the Military Order of Saint James of the Sword. In 2014, TIME magazine listed the library as the fourth most beautiful library in the world.
Easton’s family shared pictures of him enjoying his Imagination Library books for the 2020 Photo Challenge. He just graduated from the program and had participated for years, collecting over 50 books!
On Sept. 24, we gathered virtually to be inspired and raise funds for the Imagination Library at our 6th annual “luncheon.” Founded by Dolly Parton and funded 100% locally by donors like you, the program is always free for all participants. Together, we raised nearly $40,000! We have also welcomed four new Advisory Board members: Alisa Kincade, Meagan Rammell, Kathleen Ryals, and Roz Stein.
Thank you for celebrating the program with our featured speakers Bob Welch, Andre Royal, Shelley Smolnisky, Marlene Iverson, and Meagan and Easton (our Imagination Library Photo Challenge winning family)! Click on these names to view their videos from the event.
What Are We Reading?
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 books some of us are into right now.
Rosa Chávez-Jacuinde, Board Member
I finished reading The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline. It is set in Canada in some not too distant future and is about Indigenous cultural and racial survival. You can borrow it on the EPL Libby app. I’m now reading my co-worker’s debut novel, This is My America, by Kim Johnson. It is a YA novel about a high school student working to free her wrongly accused and jailed father and brother. It is a very (sadly) timely book and a great read.
Ellen Todras, Board President
I also just finished reading Kim Johnson’s novel This Is My America and really liked it. Rosa’s description is spot-on. Now I am reading another novel, Heretics by Cuban author Leonardo Padura. The book starts in 1939 in Havana, when 900+ Jewish refugees on the ship St. Louis were denied entry into the country and the ship returned to Germany (this really happened). Part historical fiction, part mystery, and part a reflection on art and freedom, Heretics is a very interesting read.
Sally Claycomb, Board Secretary
I’m currently reading Open Wide the Freedom Gates, Dorothy Height’s memoir about her experiences as a civil rights and women’s rights activist. I did not know anything about Dr. Height before this book. It has been a wonderful retelling of her amazing life and a fascinating perspective on our country’s historic (and ongoing) struggle for civil rights.
Brittany Mattice, Board Member
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. A book about strengthening our connections with the world around us – all while learning to live authentically, courageously, and with an open heart.
Reed Davaz McGowan, Executive Director
I recently finished the audiobook version of Hunger, a memoir by Roxane Gay. Hearing such a personal story in her words and voice was moving and felt intimate. Next up is a reread of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende in a Spanish-language audiobook. I’m enjoying having my hands free to weave as I listen to books on the Libby app. I also requested 5 books on otters, which my four-year old is insisting on calling “Sea Squirrels.”
Renee Buchanan, Board Member
I’m enjoying Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, sometimes by reading the physical book and other times listening to the audiobook. Both modes checked out from EPL! This fantasy book by a gifted writer has been a welcome escape.
Hans McKnight, Board Member
I just finished Ararat by Christopher Golden. For October I was wanting to read a fun horror novel and this didn’t disappoint. It was on the shorter side of only 300 pages and read like a 1980s “B” horror movie with the backdrop of a snow storm and discovering Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat.
Marta Powers, Board Co-Treasurer
I recently read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and enjoyed this book about one family from the 1950s to the 1990s. It has complex commentary on racism and race within the black community as well as white oppression during this period. I also read The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams. Great light reading and a fun mystery novel about four women solving murders, who all have a personal story to tell within the mystery as well.
Sarah Stoeckl, Board Member
For non-fiction, I recommend The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus, which lays out a realistic but visionary picture of how humanity can respond to and survive climate change while also building a more just world. I also read Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s new novel, Mexican Gothic. In this book, a young socialite in 1950s Mexico travels to a spooky mansion to visit her recently-married cousin. Ooky, spooky antics ensue that play with Gothic novel tropes in a really fun way.
Lisa Rubenstein Calevi, Board Member
I’m reading Apeirogon, by Colum McCann, and am absolutely gobsmacked by the writing.
Ashleigh Maier, Board Member
I just started reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt and, like Lisa, I have been blown away by the writing. I will be picking up more by this author moving forward!
Click the image for a video announcement from Dolly about her Imagination Library documentary, “The Library That Dolly Built: Celebrating the People Who Made Dolly’s Dream Come True,” that will premiere on December 9, at 4 p.m. PST exclusively on Facebook.
In Conversation with Experts and Enthusiasts
2nd Friday of each month from 12-1pm
Join the Foundation and a variety of guest speakers for a new virtual monthly event series via Zoom. We’ll host virtual lunch break conversations on a variety of topics of local interest connected to the ever delightful quest for knowledge and inspiration.
Join us on Friday, December 11th at 12pm on Zoom. for a look back at 2020 with Andrew Whitehead. Andrew Whitehead was until recently Editor of BBC World Service News, where he was responsible for the live news and current affairs content of the world’s most respected radio network. He also served as the BBC’s Delhi correspondent and political correspondent during his 35-year career with BBC News.
To register and read about the speaker series, please visit our event page.
The Bookish Brain Virtual Trivia Night: Round 4
Saturday, January 23, 2020 at 6pm
We’re hosting the next Bookish Brain Trivia Night this weekend on Zoom. Show off your costumes, share your wide-ranging knowledge, and raise funds for the Eugene Public Library 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. Buy your tickets before it sells out!
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
Reed Davaz McGowan
Friends of the Eugene Public Library
Lisa Rubenstein Calevi
In Memory of
Katherine A. Clawson
Library Services Update Through 12/2/2020
Eugene Public Library’s services will look a little different during the two-week freeze: All locations will remain open with most services continuing, including holds pick-up and book returns. Because fewer people will be allowed inside the buildings, two services will temporarily not be available: at the Downtown Library, there will not be counter service for same-day borrowing; and at Bethel and Sheldon branches, there will not be Internet computer access.
Traveler’s Spotlight: We invite our readers to submit pictures of libraries and literary points of interest from around the world (or Eugene). With traveling limitations now, we look forward to sharing more of these special visits our readers have shared from past adventures. If you would like to submit a library highlight from your travels, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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