Tag Archives: libraries

Smiling in the stacks.

It all started last winter when my friend Bettie Newell and I had a conversation over cocktails about small business and marketing. Bettie is a wonderful photographer, and she had an idea about doing a photoshoot with my urban legend jewelry line. Let’s get some cute girls and some vintage dresses together with your necklaces and take pictures! Well, yes, please, I would love that. A few weeks after that conversation, I posted a photograph on Instagram using a vintage dictionary as a background for a necklace. Bettie texted me immediately and said she thought the library would be perfect for a photoshoot. We set about getting permission and rounding up several of our lovely friends to be models.

And so it happened that about a month ago, I packed up a collection of urban legend jewelry and headed to Central Library in downtown Portland to meet some beautiful ladies. Central Library is an exceptionally beautiful building: spacious and light and elegant. We had a gorgeous sunny spring morning, and the light was beautiful. The group of us spent a fun few hours in the stacks, trying to keep our laughter hushed as we effected wardrobe changes, browsed through books, and scouted out good spots to gather. We managed to be unobtrusive for most of the time, but we gathered a small audience while we were posing on the central staircase. What can I say, we looked adorable.

These pictures are a small sample of the beautiful work that Bettie did. I love her eye for color and faces, and I’m so happy with the way this project came together! It’s been so much fun adding a few of these at a time to my shop listings. Keep your eyes open for more! And please visit Bettie’s website to see more of her beautiful photographs, or to book a photo session.

33.

I left a library book on the Max yesterday. Specifically, I left Shadows by Robin McKinley on the red line train at Beaverton Transit Center, as it ended its westbound run and switched over to the eastbound. It was about 8:40 in the morning, I was carrying coffee and a tote bag and an umbrella and my phone. I had been reading the book at the beginning of my commute, but then set it aside to do something else, thinking I’d get back to it before I arrived. It was wedged between my left leg and the wall. When the train got to Beaverton TC (which always comes before I’m expecting it, and I have to switch there for the blue line), I got up with my coffee and tote bag and umbrella and phone, and walked off without the library book.

I’m describing this in excruciating detail in order that I might feel every little grain of salt I’m rubbing into my own wound. I left a library book on a train. The ignominy of this is large. Big ignominy.

Oh, I’ve forgotten a detail that makes it even worse. It wasn’t even my library book. It was a loaner from a friend who finished it early and knew I had it on my hold list.

Bignominy.

The worst part, of course, is that I was only about a third of the way through, and it was zipping right along and I was loving it, and now I can’t read it until I can get another copy, or until I spend $9 and change on a Kindle edition. Which I’m not going to do, because, well, I’m not. Robin McKinley’s great with the vocabulary and the vivid and unexpected characters who are chock full of normal human details and feelings in the midst of their epic magic thing. But not even to punish myself will I spend $9 on the Kindle edition. Having to wait for another copy to roll up the library hold list is punishment enough.

But I can’t stop wondering what’s happening to this book in the meantime. It was pointed towards the airport when I left it. Did someone find it and think it looked interesting and take it somewhere fun? Did somebody pick it up and return it in a library drop box (this is Portland, I’d bet money there’s one of those at the airport)? Is it still sitting on the train? Was it there at the end of the day, and did the driver find it during a final sweep, and drop it in lost and found where it will lie unread forever and its soul will slowly die? Did a kid find it and stash it in her backpack, where it will sit for the next eight months, in a bath of gum wrappers and nail polish and nickels and pens until she finds it at the very end of summer vacation and reads it and falls in love and can’t stop telling all her friends about it and they’re all totally over it and wish she’d shut up about the main character who loves dogs just exactly as much as she loves dogs and how she doesn’t really like her stepfather either and did you guys know that origami figures can ward off evil?

I hope that one’s the one. I’ll happily pay to replace the book that never returned if that’s the one.

day 27.

The library of my childhood was across the field from my elementary school. I’d sometimes go there after school to wait for my mother to pick me up; when I picture it now, it’s from the perspective of my height at about 7 years old. I spent long hours there all through my childhood and well into my teens, but that’s the way I remember it: from low to the ground. 

It was closed on Mondays, but the back door lock wasn’t very secure and if you wiggled it just right, it would open. I know this because I once got permission to go during lunch recess, only to find it closed; but I wanted so badly to be in the quiet library, with its smell of floor polish and glue and old, dry paper. So I jimmied the door open, and let myself in and wandered around in the midday dim. I sat on the floor cushions in the children’s section, right across from the circulation desk, and read my favorite books, and then I went back across the field to school. I did this more than once, including creeping into the basement where the librarian kept tables full of discarded books, which you could take for free. I was bold that time, and turned the lights on so I could see what I was taking. I must have been considerably older by then, but I don’t remember how old. 
I loved that library. I’d pay good money for someone to bottle the scent. I’m sure the back door lock is much better now, but if I’m ever there again I’ll give it a try just in case.