Today we visited Eugene Public Library in Eugene, Oregon. We have always been big fans of Eugene and planned to spend a couple of rest days in town, visiting with our nephew and niece, Jason and Kaverii. The library is centrally located in downtown Eugene in a four-story building built in 2002. There is a beautiful courtyard outside the children’s library and an abundance of bicycle parking.
In May, Alec Chunn, Youth Services Librarian, contacted John and me and invited us to visit the library when we arrived in Eugene. We are sorry to have missed the chance to meet Alec (seems he is moving into his new house!) but we were welcomed by many of the other library staff members. We had a fabulous visit including a tour by Miriam and Lynda, plus a lunch attended by seven library staff members. During the tours, we had the opportunity to meet many of the people that work in the library, including behind-the-scenes visits to technical services (my people) and circulation.
In touring Children’s Services with Miriam, we were struck by many things. Top of my list is their Language Center, offering support to households that speak a language other than English and to several language immersion schools for French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. In signing up for the summer reading program, children can select and take home a book to keep! We were entertained by the library displays created by children on different library-related topics.
Miriam also showed us the Maker Hub, a great example of public libraries providing access to technologies and creative spaces. Resources include a 3D printer, button makers, sewing machine, electronics kits, and an embroidery machine. Next door to the Maker Hub is the Media Lab, a place for recording and editing sounds and images. Upcoming workshops in August are available for recording/editing music and an introduction to virtual reality.
As we’ve traveled through the United States, we’ve had the opportunity to discuss different topics with library staff. One interesting discussion we had over lunch today was about balancing the services for community residents with services provided to non-residents. At the Eugene Public Library, to use the computers, one must have a library card, pay three dollars an hour, or limit use to 15 minutes at one of open-access terminals. In our travels, this is the most restrictive policy thus far. In talking with library staff, they felt that there was such a high demand for the computers, that allowing anyone free access may have a detrimental effect on assuring access for the community members.
We also discussed the challenges faced by a centrally located public library in a mid-size city with a homeless population over 3,000 people. Strong universal support was voiced in keeping the library available and welcoming to all. And one way to do this is to contract with a security company to be aware of activity outside the library, so librarians can focus their attention on what’s going on inside the building. Another amazing service offered at the library is a storage unity near the library where people can securely leave their belongings while using the library. Several people remarked on the library’s role in helping with social services, most notably partnering with White Bird Clinic to provide information about housing, food, showers, and other services.
We were very touched by the hospitality of the Eugene Public Library and for Alec reaching out to us. We are grateful for the conversations at lunch--speaking on topics that add to our overall picture of public libraries, their resources, and the challenges they may face. Thanks to you all for your time, especially Alec, Miriam, and Lynda.
It’s getting hot up here in Oregon! Today we went through Hells Canyon and hit temperatures in the triple digits. Made it to Halfway, Oregon, just after noon. Ate a massive lunch and then took refuge at the Baker County Library, Halfway Branch. What a treat to step into air-conditioning, find a comfy chair, and pull out my laptop for a while. Wifi openly available with a water fountain and bathroom nearby.
After working for about an hour, we introduce ourselves to Lourdes, the one and only library staff member at the Halfway Branch. She was busy boxing up books for tomorrow’s Library District book sale in Baker, proceeds to support the beautiful garden outside the library, maintained by the Friends of the Library (see photos below). The garden looks great today but Lourdes tells us it is amazing in springtime when the flowers are in bloom. It features two picnic benches and a table and chairs where people can relax and/or use the wifi. John and I took advantage of the garden, its shade, and the wifi, after the library closed at 4pm (beats going back to the hot campground).
Next Thursday will be the fourth and final program for the Summer Reading program in Halfway. Lourdes has a strong group of 10 kids that attend the program, a good number for a town with 300+ population. The upcoming program will play on the national library theme, “Libraries Rock!,” by focusing on the geology of Oregon. Lourdes’ ten-year-old grandson will be bringing in his rock collection and a guitarist will play music. The kids will also be painting rocks, one to take home and one to hide in the community for someone else to find.
In speaking with Lourdes, she tells us how residents support the library, even those that don’t use it. Many people do not have access to a computer or the internet, so the library fills a vital role here in Halfway. And the library itself, with its garden and welcoming space, is central to community life. We certainly enjoyed and appreciated it! Thanks Lourdes and thanks Baker County Library District!
We had an early start this morning in New Meadows, Idaho. We rode about 20 miles and ate a second breakfast In Council, Idaho. Most days we eat first breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, a meal we call 'ice cream,' and dinner. Food is fuel and it's what keeps us going.
Arrived in Cambridge, Idaho, around 1:30pm and visited the museum, went to the city park to set up our tent (and bathe in the sprinklers), and headed to the Cambridge Community Library. We spent about an hour using the wifi to read emails and social media while sitting on a cozy couch and charging our devices in air-conditioned comfort.
After we had saturated our minds with the internet, we spoke with the library director, Lorrie, about the town and the library. Right now the big thing for the library is the upcoming budget hearing, scheduled for August 1. The requested budget has been published in the local newspaper and a notice of the public hearing is posted on the library's front door. Lorrie says they usually receive what they request and she is feeling optimistic. I've included the budget from the newspaper below.
Lorrie works hard to bring kids and young adults into the library. They just wrapped up a successful Summer Reading program for the community. A lot of the FFA and 4H kids use the library computers to complete projects and the library recently held a pizza parties for the teens and a pajama party for the little ones. And something I have not seen at any other library, Cambridge Community provides books for kids to take home (to keep, like forever!!) Lorrie loves books and reading and says she will do anything to promote them.
The Cambridge Community Library has an interesting history. It began in Maude Donart's store in the 1950s, where Maude provided a rotating collection on loan from Boise Public Library. In 1973, a group of volunteers (led by John Mount) constructed a building to serve as the community library. As the collection grew and Cambridge needed a larger library, the former library director, Nina, called local businessman Robert Stinnett and asked him to donate a vacant downtown building. Stinnett agreed and the library moved to its current location.
What a wonderful thing- a public space where we can just relax, think, and get out of the heat (at no cost). Plus, we learned something about the local history. Thanks Lorrie and Cambridge Community Library!!
Today we rode up and up and up. A really demanding day with over 3,000 feet of climbing, plus sun, heat, and wind. Two things made the day pretty special, an A&W Root Beer restaurant waiting for us at the end of the ride in New Meadows, Idaho, and the company of another cyclist, Bryant. We met Bryant at Lolo Pass and have been riding with him for the past three days. He's done a lot of touring in the past 15 years and is a very interesting fellow, with knowledge about farming, nutrition, bicycles, and beekeeping. He left us this evening to head home but we plan on staying with him and his wife later in the trip.
After we ate/drank our root beer floats, John and I went to visit the Meadows Valley Public Library. One of the first things we saw at the library was an Adventure Cycling TransAm sticker in the front window. That made us feel very welcome. Kayrene, a library staff member, greeted us with a hello as we entered and we talked about the town and the library. New Meadows received its name when the original town (Meadows) moved west a few miles to be closer to the trains. About 500-600 people live here, many making their living in the cattle business. The library has been around "forever," moving into the current building about ten years ago.
In addition to the TransAm sticker in the front window, we also saw a display with information about the Adventure Cycling Association and free copies of their magazine, Adventure Cyclist. Kayrene told us many cyclists come through New Meadows to use the computers in the library. All they need to do is read and sign an agreement about appropriate computer use. There is no wifi available in the library since appropriate use cannot be assured. I must say, I've never heard of this being a concern in other libraries and wonder as to the origin of the policy.
The Summer Reading program is in full-swing. 39 kids were in the library earlier today for a program consisting of a 15-minute science program, a story, and a craft (making wind chimes). Participants earn tokens for reading and they can use the tokens to enter drawings for big prizes or trade-in their tokens for smaller prizes. All the prizes were purchased with donations from the community, the donors' names listed along the wall. In addition to the children and youth's Summer Reading, 28 adults have signed up to participate. They can use their tokens to enter a drawing for a Kindle reading tablet.
Thanks to Kaylene for her time. We enjoyed speaking with you. And thank you to Meadows Valley Public Library for being so welcoming to bicycle tourists. It is very much appreciated!
We've spent the last three days traveling from Missoula, Montana, to White Bird, Idaho. We either seem to be climbing or coasting downhill. Yesterday was one of the easiest days of riding (all downhill) while today was one of the most grueling, with two passes and about 3,500 feet of climbing. We didn't know what to expect from this part of Idaho. Growing up, I thought Idaho was all flat potato farm land. Obviously I didn't know much about Idaho. I've included some photos below of the scenery. Really gorgeous.
Right now, we are sitting outside of the White Bird Community Library, in White Bird, Idaho. The library is a community effort and staffed solely by volunteers. The library is closed but provides 24 hour wifi (The WiFi Zone) and outdoor seating. So although they are only open nine hours a week, they supply wifi around the clock to the community and tourists passing through. And in a place where our cell phones have a limited connection, it is very much appreciated!
We’re taking a rest day in Missoula after two days of relative easy riding. Staying with a Warm Showers host that makes his home available to bicycle tourists--last night nine cyclists were staying in the house. Such generosity is very much appreciated. Yesterday we also visited Shali Zhang, Dean of Libraries at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana. Shali and I have worked together with the International Relations Round Table (ALA) for years and it was a great treat to see her and visit the Library. She took us out to dinner at the university's all-you-can-eat dining room--and we can eat a lot, further demonstrated by our visits to the Farmers Market and a French bakery this morning. Many baked goods were purchased.
After baked goods, we rode to the Missoula Public Library First thing we saw at the library was a bicycle tool stand and a tire pump, both provided by Mountain Line, a local bus and transit service. Cycling is a big deal in Missoula, maybe due to the natural beauty of the area. Plus, the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association and the University of Montana are here. Library staff told us that the library has a tricycle that serves as a mobile library and is out and about today at Missoula’s three Farmers Markets. Hopefully John and I can locate it and check it out.
For programming, the library offers the Libraries Rock!! summer reading program, with activities scheduled throughout the summer and an end-of-summer party on July 31st. They have two teen Writers’ Groups, two adult book groups, and five computer classes scheduled in July. I was very impressed with their movie schedule which includes numerous film series: World Wide Cinema; Cheap Date Night; Summer Family Movies; The Great American Read Film Series; and Summer Movie Matinees.
Inside the building there is a lot of information about the new library building, ground-breaking scheduled for August, 2018 (next month!). Currently the library only has seating for 38 people while more than 1500 people visit each day. For every book added, one needs to be removed. And a very interesting statistic, one in four Missoulians do not have access to the internet. Missoula Public Library is the busiest library in the state of Montana and has over 700,000 visitors a year. In 2016, Missoula County passed a 30-million-dollar library bond, with the new building scheduled to open in 2020. The bond passed with over 60 percent of the vote, displaying amazing community support for the library.
We want to thank Stephen for taking the time to speak with us and congratulate Missoula County on their new library!
Tuesday, we spent the day in Dillon, Montana (population 4000+). We usually try and take one day a week off of the bikes, mostly to get a bit more sleep, do laundry, and catch up on writing letters and email. We usually wake up around 4:30am, so sleeping until 6:30 is a real treat.
After breakfast and coffee, we headed to the Dillon Public Library. We spoke with Edna, library staff member, and she told us a bit about the history of the library. The library is a beautiful Carnegie building built in 1902, complete with four gargoyles and a turret. The library building is included in the National Historical Register of Buildings. The driving force behind obtaining the Carnegie funds was Mary Perkins-Hooker, a Dillon resident and great-niece of Harriet Beecher-Stowe. Perkins-Hooker was also a member of the second oldest book club in Montana, the Shakespeare Club, which still exists today in Dillon.
We also got the chance to speak with the Library Director, Lori Roberts. What an inspiring librarian! In times of budget cuts for Montana libraries, Lori has written and received 6-8 grants this past year for the Dillon Public Library. Lori told us about several of the resources/services that are available with grant funding. The backpack program provides backpacks that include binoculars, fishing poles, park pass for Glacier National Park, and various maps. The grant funds will also allow the library to offer media workshops to teenagers to develop skills with movie making. The library will furnish an instructor, go-pros, a drone, and laptops with media-making software.
While speaking with Lori, she told us of two library programs taking place that very night: the Teen Top-Chef Cookout and an outdoor concert featuring Jack and Kitt, an Emmy-award-winning musical duo. She invited us to the community potluck, same time and place as the concert. We did go and had a fabulous meal while watching children dance to the music of Jack and Kitty. A wonderful evening. Thanks to Lori and the Dillon Public Library for inviting us!
One of the best things about this trip is all the pleasant surprises along the way. Monday morning, we left Ennis at about 5:30 am and spent the next three hours heading up a steep climb (this was not a pleasant surprise). But after the uphill we had a glorious downhill that passed through the town of Virginia City, Montana, a town like no other. Part of the town was a restored mining town, with different businesses fashioned to represent 19th century Virginia City, a booming mining town. Doors were left open for tourists to check out the stores, complete with mannequins and an amazing number of wares from past years. I mean, like dozens of pairs of long johns, a store full of groceries, a tailor’s shop with about fifty men’s coats and vests. Someone put a lot of effort and forethought into collecting these things and while it all was a bit eerie, I really enjoyed it. And since it was still early in the morning, we had the place to ourselves.
We knew that we would be on the bikes for many hours today due to the long climb and 71 miles. We were looking forward to stopping at the Two Bridges Public Library to relax and talk with the library staff. Two Bridges, Montana, was built around two bridges that cross the Beaverhead River. The Beaverhead, Ruby, and Big Hole Rivers converge to form the Jefferson River in Two Bridges, making this small town (population 400-500) a pretty big deal in fly-fishing circles.
On the outside wall of the library is an amazing mural painted by local artist, Jim Shirk. It combines local history/attractions with cowboys, fly fishing, and spine labels. Inside we were surprised to find a stuffed lion. Edith, the library staff member on duty, told us that the lion originally belonged to a doctor in Two Bridges that liked to big-game hunt in the 1920s-1940s. The library has many more trophies housed upstairs and is trying to raise money to create a display open to the public.
The library sees many bicycles tourists passing through. The library allows use of the internet and wifi, plus offers free coffee and tea to all visitors. A big stand near the front door features pamphlets of local attractions, plus they have two large book collections of interest to tourists: the Fishing Collection and the Montana Collection. Nick, a fisherman from Asheville, North Carolina, was visiting the library looking for books and maps of the Madison River.
Edith, along with three additional volunteers, will be teaching Spanish language classes beginning soon. The library also offers computer classes, children’s reading program, and a movie night once a month. In addition to their book collection, they offer inter-library loan with county library partners, expanding the collection. Local residents often help with couriering the books from library to library, as they travel within the county.
Thanks to Edith for her time and the great conversation. We learned a lot about Two Bridges and very much appreciated the uniqueness of this library and surrounding area.
Over the past week we’ve been able to visit only one library due to the July 4th holiday and riding through national parks. We spent our July 4th in Dubois, Wyoming (population 1,000), enjoying the parade and eating ice cream. We spent the next three days in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. We will always remember the approaching backdrop of the Tetons; the herd of elk we rode through at 5:30 in the morning; the sunrises; and Yellowstone’s hot springs/geysers. We will also remember sharing the narrow roads with RVs--that was something.
So, after visiting only one library last week, we were pretty excited to arrive at the West Yellowstone Library today. West Yellowstone, Montana, is home to about 10,000 people during the summers. Population drops to only 1,200 during the winters, perhaps due to its reputation as one of the coldest places in the United States. Last winter, the snow reached above the roof of the library. Housing is difficult to find and expensive. But if you want to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, you make the jump and move to West Yellowstone anyway- like Steve and Monica, the library staff we met during our visit.
Steve moved to West Yellowstone over ten years ago to devote more time to fly-fishing. The library has a great fly-fishing collection, many of the books donated by residents. During our visit we met Warren, a library patron actually tying flies in the library.
Outside the library is the community garden where residents can rent a plot for the season. The growing season is short here, with only 30 frost-free days. Garden covers are a necessity. Steve also showed us a section of the library dedicated to Pre-K learning. The library offers two Pre-K sessions a week at no charge and has ‘graduated’ more than 150 children. The Library Director, Bruce McPherson, helped to raise funds for a new preschool in town, celebrating its opening this summer.
The library offers Spanish and English courses, free of charge. They have also offered Mandarin lessons in the past, since the Asian tourism industry is booming in West Yellowstone. This small town has six Chinese restaurants and several hotels that cater to guests mainly from China and Korea.
The book budget has remained level for the past ten years but Steve tells us that additional books are available through inter-library loan within the Gallatin County Free Public Library system (includes Bozeman Public Library). The shipping of books from one location to another is provided at no charge by a local beer distributor, the Cardinal Company. They figure they need to deliver the beer anyway, why not help with the books?
Thanks to Steve, Monica, and Warren for visiting with us and telling us about the library and life in West Yellowstone. We admire your decisions to move to this beautiful place and your part in creating such a welcoming space for your community and tourists such as ourselves.
After a day of up-and-down hills and moderate winds, we arrived in Lander, Wyoming, around 1:30 pm. Lander has a thriving downtown featuring three coffee shops, two outdoor stores, and the headquarters of the wilderness education school, NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). After grabbing some coffee and checking out the bicycle shop, we headed to the Lander Public Library, a branch of the Fremont County Library system.
When we arrived, we met Anita (Lander Manager) and Terry (Library Staff). Anita was kind enough to spend almost an hour with us, telling us about the town of Lander (population 7400), the library, and giving us a behind-the-scenes tour of the original Carnegie section of the library. The Carnegie library was completed in 1907, with two additions, one in 1977 and the second in 2009. Each addition kept some of the best details of the previous building(s), creating a beautiful meld of three different architectural styles. The Carnegie section is now used as a public performance space and houses the Friends of the Library’s perpetual book sale, known as the “Book Nook” (with an additional location downtown). The library has four meeting spaces available to the community and is booked over 100 times a year.
Lander Public Library sees a lot of bicycle tourists passing through as well as many tourists on their way to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. They also have many people that live seasonally in the area to attend a camp, work, or enjoy a summer-long rental. The wifi is available 24 hours-a-day, inside and outside the building (with benches provided).
Like many libraries in Wyoming, Lander Public Library has recently experienced some budget cuts that resulted in lower staffing levels and a reduction in the programming budget. Faced with the budget cuts, Landers Public Library is collaborating with other community and non-profit groups to create and support library programming. The Wind River Farm to Plate non-profit organization provides the Seed Library at the Lander Public Library and offers free workshops. The local radio station, KDLY, has featured Anita a number of times on their ‘Coffee Time’ morning program to promote the library. Lander Parks and Recreation presented a $6,000 grant to help support the Summer Reading Program and the Library Friends group raised $12,000 (with matching funds of $12,000) through the Lander Community Foundation’s Challenge for Charities.
And my favorite library program was the Bike-to-Work event on Wednesday, June 27. Supported by donations from the local bike and sport stores, patrons that rode their bikes to the library received a small gift, had their photo taken, and were entered into the drawing for larger bicycle-related prizes. Another example of libraries connected with bicycles!!
Our thanks to Anita and the staff of Lander Public Library. A beautiful town that loves their library!