Dear Community (our letter in The Register-Guard)

A Foundation and Friends: Keeping You Connected to the Library

For most of us, the shelter-in-place requirements and social distancing orders have forced our lives to pivot rapidly. During the life-altering crisis that is the COVID-19 Pandemic, there continue to be hardships for nearly everyone in our community. The closure of schools, restaurants, businesses, parks, and many more venues has interrupted our daily routines. COVID-19 has dramatically highlighted many disparities in our lives as well. 

The quarantine has also greatly affected something of immeasurable civic value for everyone in Eugene – our public library.

And the closure of library buildings is so much more than just a temporary secession of people checking out books. The Eugene Public Library is a vibrant part of our downtown and Sheldon and Bethel neighborhoods, a gathering space for people and organizations alike, a vital free resource of digital and physical learning tools, and a sanctuary for all. With the buildings locked, thousands of our neighbors are cut off from services they relied on using every day of the week.

You might think everyone’s locked out and unserved, but they’re not. The Library has worked diligently to meet challenges our community faces by making online-use library cards available free of charge to all living in the Eugene area, even those outside city limits, following the Eugene Public Library’s temporary closure. Library staff have actively engaged with patrons remotely to issue new library cards, support use of the online features, recommend materials, and offer virtual programming, such as story times and book clubs, for children and teens. Still, there are services that COVID-19 made it impossible to provide, which only highlights the importance of restoring and supporting those services.

While the Library prepares to reopen gradually with safety as the highest priority, its staff has worked from their homes to keep the Library going. We are continually inspired by how our library and libraries across the world are exploring new models to serve their patrons and increase accessibility to their collections and services. Equitable information access is an American ideal, and COVID-19 has proven that the critical work of libraries goes far beyond being buildings that contain collections. 

As leaders from the two organizations that advocate and mobilize for our Library’s resources, we see the impact of the Library and its community of supporters every day. The Eugene Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Eugene Public Library are proud to work together to support each other and the Library during COVID-19.

We are also proud to see the value of our contributions through virtual programming, online resources, the Summer Reading program, and even sewing machines from the Maker Hub that have been used recently to produce over 800 masks for local distribution. 

When the phased reopening begins, the Foundation and the Friends will warmly welcome back the community. It will certainly not be business as usual for the library for a while. Yet we are committed to helping our Library thrive and innovate ways of reaching our community. The Eugene Public Library will provide an update to City Council in July, proposing the renewal of the Library’s five-year local option operating levy. As our community faces long-term effects from COVID-19, the levy will enable the Library to address resulting needs that have emerged. 

The levy will expand services for community recovery including workforce development, educational training, and other high quality, free services that will benefit community members of all ages. It will support children and youth by providing resources to reduce summer learning slides and gaps in digital learning, expand early childhood literacy, and increase 3rd grade reading levels, which are often indicators of future academic success. Additionally, the levy will provide our community with essential access to information. The Library serves many vulnerable populations, including unhoused community members, and access to free information and methods of connecting is more urgent now than ever. 

As we head toward that eagerly awaited day when Eugene’s Library opens its doors again, we ask you to be its advocates and champions alongside us. 

For more information about how you can help, visit the Eugene Public Library Foundation or the Friends of the Eugene Public Library. Together, these two nonprofits raise funds for our library. The Foundation seeks public and private donations, supporting library materials, programming, and its efforts to inspire lifelong learning and to enrich the entire community. The Foundation is a funder of the Public School Access Initiative, a pilot project to provide library cards to all public schools students in Eugene.

Hundreds of volunteers work year-round through the Friends to sell donated books at sales, a used bookstore and online. Money raised by the Friends supports programs for children and adults. With the primary annual fundraisers of both of our organizations having been canceled (including the Friends’ book sale), stay tuned for new ways to connect and raise much-needed funds for the Library. 

Reed Davaz McGowan
Executive Director
Eugene Public Library Foundation

Connie Regali
President of the Board of Directors
Friends of the Eugene Public Library

COVID-19 Updates

Library from Balcony

June 9, 2020 –

Please read the updated information from the Eugene Public Library on resuming some library services on June 15, 2020. We will continue to work offsite at this point to comply with physical distancing requirements. Gift processing may experience some delays due to limited access to the Library and we thank you for your patience as we navigate offsite operations. Please let us know if you have any questions or need to be in touch at (541) 338-7018 or and we will respond as soon a possible.

Thank you, Reed

April 20, 2020 –

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
(541) 338-7018 

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 or:

Reed Davaz McGowan
Executive Director

Madison Wilson
Administrative Coordinator

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

June 2020: Important Announcements from the Foundation

This year, the Eugene Public Library reached out far beyond the boundaries of its walls. Due to COVID-19, the Library reimagined how it serves our community and opened its virtual doors as wide as possible. The Foundation is honored to be a philanthropic partner of the Library and provide a pathway for our donors to directly enhance library services in Eugene during this turbulent time.  

Because of the generosity of our donors, business partners, and foundations, we proudly presented an “IOU” for $288,700 to Library Services Director Will O’Hearn at our online Board meeting on Monday, June 8th. Don’t worry, we’ll hand off a real check this month too! This, in addition to $86,974  gifted to the Library earlier this year and $105,000 for Imagination Library costs, brings our total giving to literacy in Eugene to an incredible $480,674 for our 2019-2020 fiscal year. This financial support will have a profound impact on our entire community. 

Shortly after I joined the Foundation as the Executive Director in January, we faced the cancellation of our largest annual fundraiser and the temporary closure of the Library due to COVID-19. Despite this, we were still able to support the launch of our Public School Access Initiative to bring library cards to all public school students in Eugene and maintain the tremendous level of giving of previous years. 

I am inspired at the level of support our community of donors has continued to show throughout the challenges of the past several months. This demonstrates an extraordinary understanding of the importance of the Library to our community, making our gift this year even more meaningful. 

In community,

Reed Davaz McGowan, Executive Director

Black lives matter. We acknowledge that many in our community experience pervasive, structural racism every day, and for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community members living in Eugene, this fight is neither new nor fleeting. As we support the Eugene Public Library, our donors and philanthropy greatly impact our community. We are committed to listening and learning how we can actively promote anti-racist practices in our efforts to support the Library’s work as a conduit for learning and information, amplifying underrepresented voices and serving as a welcoming public institution for all.

For those seeking additional information, please click here for resources and curated reading lists.

Library staff have been working behind the scenes since the Library’s temporary closure to greatly expand usage of online resources. Since the closure, Library staff have fielded 3,400 patron calls, issued 700 new library cards, and seen a 70% rise in the use of online resources. The Library extended free online access to all living in the broader Eugene community to ensure wide access to information and materials as well. 

But, of course, there is something about checking out physical materials from the Library that just can’t be replaced – whether that’s the feeling of turning the pages of a book or putting on a DVD of a film you’ve been eagerly waiting to watch.

Starting this week following public health guidance, Downtown Library book returns opened during limited hours: Mondays through Saturdays, 7am-5pm.  At this point, book returns are only open at the Downtown branch, though you can return material from any branch there.

Beginning on Wednesday, patrons can schedule hold pickups at all three branches, including Bethel and Sheldon.  

The hold pick-ups are not limited to books but apply to anything and everything that can be put on hold at the Library, including DVDs & Blu-Ray, video games, audio books, music CDs, and more!

Cardholders are not limited to holds made before the Library’s closure, but can add to their list of requests. Library staff will be filling the existing 5000+ holds first, so patron patience is appreciated as they get to newer holds. Have some books on hold you know you won’t get to right away? Patrons can choose to “suspend” holds – but don’t worry – a suspended request continues to climb up the waitlist, and Library staff wait to put it aside for you until you choose to “reactivate” that title.

Anyone living in the Eugene area is welcome to a free online-use library card at this time – all you have to do is give the Library a call at 541-682-5450.

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

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 

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 

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

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

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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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  
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
(541) 338-7018 

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

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

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:

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

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 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

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


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

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.