What you may not learn from a drive through town, you’ll soon understand when you spend an afternoon at the Orland Free Library in Orland, CA. Others may consider Orland a drive-by town, or a blip off the highway, but we’d call it a sweet town with a thriving library that sits literally and figuratively as the center of the community.
Most of the people who work at the library grew up on Orland, visiting the library as a child, instilling a love of reading early on. The staff told stories that wove a dense fabric of the lore of Orland, and the history of the library. The Director of the library, Marilyn Cochran, is warm, dynamic, and whip-smart—the kind of person whose eyes sparkle as she listens intently. She remembered when Jody, the Children’s Librarian, was a child, and she and her sister scuttled through the building, searching for their next book. Margarita, a staff member at the library, recalled the original Orland Free Library—a quaint Carnegie building—and told stories of how immense the building seemed through her young eyes. Estelle, another staff member, shared how the town had become more diverse over time, changing from a time when her family were the only Mexican-Americans in town.
We loved the time we spent in Orland, meeting the staff, chatting with patrons as they happily used the library on a Friday—a day that had long since meant locked doors and darkened stacks. We plan to stay in touch.