I love traveling the back roads, stopping at small towns, and musing about what makes them tick. That's why this trip has been so special: I'm doing what I love and learning while I do it. I've never visited small towns in California, and I've enjoyed comparing and contrasting them to my own experiences in small, Midwestern cities. There's a slight adventurous side to these West Coast towns, a wild west personality that's absent from the more staid and reserved heartland.
When we see a library, we stop. And when we leave our keys in the bookmobile ignition and smartly lock the doors, we stay a little longer.
This was the case when we arrived at the Redding Library on Sunday, when James, ever conscious of safety, made our trip a little more interesting. Lucky for us, we were at the the perfect spot to research our next stop while he chatted with Robyn from AAA about our predicament.
I just left the Tehama County Library in Red Bluff to find Internet access. The library doesn't offer wi-fi, and their public computers blocked access to my webmail, so off I drove to the one spot in town where the iced coffee is served with free wi-fi.
Just minutes ago, I took this shot:
We spent a lovely day on Saturday in Weaverville, CA, a town of about 3000 at the foothills of the Trinity Alps. As one 20-something put it, "it's a sleepy town" (he used this phrase 7 times during our 10-minute chat about his hometown). But it's a charming town, too. There were antique stores, a few cafes, a bead store, a large logging mill, the historic Joss House, and a library just barely out of town, on the main street.
My traveling cohorts, James and Shinjoung, are tech savvy librarians who love sharing tips with other fellow librarians. On Friday, they got their chance at the Orland Free Library.
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.
I love learning about libraries, and what I particularly enjoy is hearing about what librarians love about their library. I've asked each librarian to share their thoughts on this topic, and it was Sue's answer, from the Grass Valley branch of the Nevada County Library, that has remained in my mind.
Each day, I've used the public computers at the libraries we visit, and at the Madelyn Helling Library, when I attempted to plug in my MP3 player/flash drive, I experienced difficulties fitting it in to the Dell desktop computer's USB port (my computer was named Zeppo). The port was situated at an angle and designed for a smaller device. Try as I may, I couldn't make it work.
I’ve met so many superstars on this trip, and look forward to meeting more. At each library, I sometimes feel like a walking Cookbook: I share stories, I offer solutions I’ve heard from libraries, and I capture the triumphs and challenges each step of the way. Here’s a brief synopsis of just a few shining moments:
Open entering the Nevada County Public Library, the first thing I noticed were the names on the public computers--“Groucho,” “Gummo,” “Zeppo,” “Chico,” and “Harpo”-–a fun way for the patrons to select the public computer they want to use, and a great way for staff to keep track of patron usage. No numbers to remember, or tech-specific codes, just names that are memorable and offer a human aspect to a sometimes cold and distant technology.