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Readers, writers celebrate library.

Byline: GARRET JAROS The Register-Guard

The next-to-last chapter of the old Eugene Public Library was written on a cold and foggy night as readers joined with writers to hobnob amidst the hallowed halls of bookworm heaven.

Hundreds turned out at the old library at 100 W. 13th Ave. Saturday night to share in an Authors & Artists Fair before the building closes for good today. The epilogue will be told this afternoon, with the task of moving books and other materials to the new library commencing on Monday.

The palatial new library, two blocks away on West 10th Avenue, is scheduled to open to the public Dec. 26.

On Saturday, more than 30 local writers, along with musicians, gourmet desserts, wine and gifts, were sprinkled throughout the library's three floors, where perhaps for the first time neither a whisper nor a shush could be heard.

Kris Kirkeby of Eugene liked what she saw.

"It's the beauty of living in a small town to have the community so attached to a library like this," she said.

The self-proclaimed "library devotee" said she checked out about 25 books to last her until the new library opens.

The writers seemed to be the biggest attraction as they sat sandwiched between aisles and next to the ghost of card catalogs past. Sales seemed brisk, despite the card-carrying patrons whose silent motto is "Why buy when you can borrow."

"I wanted to come see the authors and celebrate the library," said Linda Bovard of Eugene, who carried an arm load of purchased books. "And I bought some Christmas presents."

A few authors waxed poetic on the role libraries have played in their lives.

"They are a safe place, one of the first places I found solitude," said Henry Alley, author and professor of literature at the University of Oregon.

"I used to go to the Seattle library in the mid '60s with a manual typewriter," Alley said. "It's a source of meditation in some ways, and I think there's a fellowship that happens with the readers and librarians and the authors of the books."

Robert Kono of Eugene, whose latest novel is about Japanese-American soldiers in World War II, said his career began in a library.

"The library is where it all got started," he said. "I was starved for the English word and I was in a foreign land, in a remote region of war-torn Japan. There was no one to talk to in English and nothing to read, and then a local library got some English books.

"I read the novels and decided right then and there I was going to be a writer," he said. "And the library has been very important ever since."

As people said farewell to the old library by writing remembrances in a book, longtime library foundation member Molly Stafford smiled at the upbeat mood.

"We had a good turnout tonight and everyone seems to be mellow and happy to be here, but looking forward to the new library," she said. "That's what I keep hearing."



Today is public's last chance to say goodbye to current library at 100 W. 13th Ave.

When: Doors will be unlocked at 1 p.m. and locked at 5 p.m. in special ceremonies. Historical plaques will be taken to new library via bookmobile. Refreshments, memory book.
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Title Annotation:Farewell: Food and musicians round out the penultimate event.; General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 8, 2002
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