In a recent letter, Eric Harris portrays the Eugene Public Library as something reminiscent of Animal House or perhaps Reefer Madness. The most charitable and restrained response I can offer is that my experience does not in any way match what he describes.
I am a frequent visitor to the library — often stopping by once or twice a week — and can’t remember ever really having a negative experience. I have occasionally heard someone raise his voice. I have heard a cell phone go off. I have even seen the “tumult” of “defiant youths” — to quote Harris — who sometimes absentmindedly will put their feet on a piece of furniture only to be respectfully asked by staff to move their feet back to the floor.
Much to Harris’ apparent dismay it is a public library. Indeed, it is an excellent public library that is consequently used by a huge number of people for a thousand different reasons.
As the number of inclusive public spaces has diminished only to be replaced by commercial, retail and otherwise exclusionary profit-driven spaces, it seems our tolerance for our own neighbors has waned a great deal. The hell Harris describes is not to be found in the library; it’s in his head, and it’s nothing more than other people.
By my account, the Eugene Public Library is one of the single best things about living in Eugene.
Ian E. Smith