Library Hop 2011 2.5: The Continuing Adventures of Marley and Pearl

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With all the doom and gloom news about the Book World of stores closing and libraries facing extreme budget cuts, I try to look for ways to temporary set aside the bleakness of it all and appreciate and focus on the existing, surviving, and still thriving book community. Library hops do just that and it is exactly what it sounds- going from one library to the other for the enjoyment of it.

Pearl (a.k.a Carly) had our 2nd Annual Library Hop earlier this year and this day (July 17th) was a continuation of it. Our first stop was the new Vancouver Community Library for its grand opening. We had visited the old location last year before they shut it down. I was excited to see what the differences would be and I was amazed. Whereas the old one was pretty standard, this new one was anything but.

I’d like to mention that the day of the hop was ridiculously unseasonal even by Portland summer standards. Travelling to Vancouver didn’t really improve matters. Having looked at the schedule of events online, I knew there would be a bunch of speeches to listen to before anyone could actually see the interior of the building. Imagine my surprise when I saw a large crowd braving the weather to be part of the occasion.

I’m not going to lie and say I was actively listening to the speakers but it was your typical congratulatory speeches. Standing outside the beautiful five-story library and thinking about how rare this was during our current economy, I didn’t mind that much standing out in the rain and cold. They deserved the spotlight, praises, high-fives, balloons, and marching band, which ultimately led to the ribbon cutting ceremony.

With the long lines of people wanting to go in, you’d think it was a concert or something. But it was worth it. The first thing that caught my eye was the Knowledge Wall art piece, very reminiscent of Central Library’s “Tree of Knowledge” staircase. There was also the Friends of Library’ Booknook near the entrance with its moving shelves. Unfortunately, they weren’t open that day. Everything looked very modern with the glass walls and large TV screens. Another cool detail was that the bottom of each landing had what books were found on that floor- 3rd floor was Children, 4th was Non-Fiction, and 5th was Fiction.

For this occasion, a slew of literary characters welcomed us- from the Wicked Witch of the West to Anne of Green Gables. To avoid the crowds, our plan was to get to the uppermost floor and work ourselves down instead of following the self-guided tour map.

Once you get to the fifth floor, you have to check out the terrace for the view. Granted, it wasn’t all that because of the weather. Next to it was the Vancouver Room, great for reading by the fire or enjoying the displays all over. On the fourth floor, there were a couple of meeting rooms and awesome looking study pods.

The Children’s Floor was probably my favorite. It was like a museum and playground all rolled into one. I can imagine kids not wanting to leave because of the so many things to see, touch and explore. And we even made crowns in the Children’s Program Room. Why not, right?

We did a quick walk through of the second floor, which was dedicated to administrative use. And we eventually found ourselves back to the first floor. Teens have their own cool area. And the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation were handing out information in the Columbia Room. I was glad to see a “Lucky Day” section in which new and popular titles can be checked out without having to wait for them. Of course, that depends on your luck.

You only need two points to hop to and from. And, since we were relying on public transportation and Sunday business hours, we really couldn’t go to that many places anyway. Our next stop was the Vancouver Mall Community Library at Westfield Shoppingtown. I’ve only seen one other library actually located inside a mall. I think the idea is pretty cool. It seemed a little larger than the one in Henderson, Nevada. While not particularly exciting, I’m glad people have this resource. There’s really no reason why people shouldn’t have library cards.

I had a great time during this Library Hop and look forward to more. It’s such a fun and positive experience, reinforcing my belief that although the landscape of the Book World may change, it will always be populated with passionate and dedicated readers.

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