Monday, October 10, 2011

Counting the Cost: Leaving My Library

The fabulous Highlands Ranch Library.
You've heard of food deserts, right? Looks like I'm moving into a book desert. The library system in what will be my new neighborhood, well, it's not a system at all. Volunteers started the thing in 2005. You have to pay to join. Just $15 a year, but still. It's an ugly little building open about 20 hours a week, with 15,000 books. No county-wide sharing, either.

I can't tell, but seriously doubt they have wifi or comfortable chairs. So, alas: looks like it won't be my home away from home, my best place to work, as the main Highlands Ranch Library has been.

I'll miss you, Douglas County! (Don't tell, but I may hold onto my card and check out electronic copies to read on my computer or listen on my iPod.)

I can legitimately get a card for the Eugene public library system for $120 a year. C's family owns some property in city limits. He thinks he can renew his card - expired! - and let me use it. That would be free.

Even their libraries are not nearly as nice as ours here in Douglas County, though. No fireplaces or glorious views; nobody coming to play the harp on a Sunday afternoon (!) Guess I'll need to investigate coffee shops that are friendly to laptop hobos.

A little over a year ago I went to visit Eugene for the first time in decades. Among other things I went to poke around my old haunts near the university. There I ran into another problem that practically brought me to tears, one I never had to face as a college student without a car. Yes, parking. Parking anywhere near campus - especially if you don't want to pay for it - is very, very difficult. Even more so for someone like me who has trouble with street parking (due to my utter absence of depth perception).

OK, I shouldn't whine. I'm going to survive this loss!

But I think these differences reflects a couple aspects of regional culture that are not the same between my home here on the edge of the Midwestern prairies and my old/new home in the Pacific Northwest.

One thing is that here we have plenty of space, space for anything. When my dad and stepmom came to visit they found it almost offensive: everything is spread out. Seemed wasteful to them. I understand why.

Second, I'd have to say Coloradans are more hospitable and generous than Northwesterners. They have some of the individualism that marks culture across the West, but there's a higher level of trust, and at least in the suburbs a considerably lower level of crime. Unemployment is much higher in Eugene, and nobody seems to have as much money. I'm moving from a richer area to a poorer one.

Wonder what other ways these dynamics will affect what my life is like there?


sheehanagins said...

bye-bye roof-top patio and cozy fireside room. :( are you sure you want to move? ha...just kidding. you're going to do great. you may need to invest in a segway to beat the parking around campus, though. :)

Marti said...

Yeah, it's a little sad. You'll have to go linger there in my honor.

One of the first things C. said when we were talking about this issue is that for $10 a year or something I could join the Knight library, the one on campus.

Now, if I had that Segway, this might be do-able...

Or, to be more realistic: I should get my bicycle overhauled. And maybe add a basket for library books : - )

Megan Noel said...

well you can always come visit seattle, we seattlites do love our libraries. can you, as an alum, use the UO library? I bet Eugene has some good used book stores, too. seems the sort of place that would.

Jenni said...

I still remember how awesome that Highlands Ranch library was. When I moved to California, the libraries weren't horrible, but unexpectedly we have found library nirvana in Topeka, KS of all places. When Michael and I first went to check it out (we're library nerds, of course), we had to keep our enthusiasm down as we walked through the swooshing automatic doors into the brand-spanking-new complex that was finished last year. This library even has its own app. Who would've thought?