When I made my first visit to the city of Ashland back in 2014, there was one place I checked out immediately. Yep, you guessed it, the library! The children’s department was of particular interest to me at the time, and I remember when I first walked into the Branch’s historic Carnegie wing, I was instantly charmed by the wonderful woodwork, lofty ceilings, large windows, and, well, just the space in general. It was warm, welcoming, and abustle with both children and adults. Some were looking for books, others were reading in comfy chairs, a group of adults were sitting around chatting while their children played at a train table, while another group took part in a Lego program that was going on.

This was not the “shushy” library of days past — this library was alive and awesome! It was a space that invited laughter, noise, the building of community, friendships, and fun! I felt right at home. 

Almost nine years later, in my role as the librarian in charge of the Ashland children’s department, my goal has been the same: to create a warm and inviting community gathering space where everyone is (and hopefully feels) welcome, and the library feels alive. In this, I am not alone. The Ashland branch in general, from the amazing team found in the children’s department, the folks who work the circulation desk, to the staff in Adult and Teen services — everyone seems to embrace this idea of invitation and welcome as well. 

Collaborations of all shapes and sizes happen routinely between the library and other community organizations. For instance, our Teen Services department has teamed up with the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, and with the help of teen volunteers and other folks, is providing a community food pantry in the lobby. 

Other collaborations include Rogue World Music’s Winter Sound Walk. This program features art installations by local artists ages 5 to 100 in local downtown business windows and the Ashland Library throughout the month of December. “With thematic threads of nature weaving from work to work and a streamable, curated showcase of local, regional, and global musicians features music connected to the November-January time throughout the world. Participation is free. All artwork is in street-facing windows, and the audio is available to stream off the website, making it convenient to participate whenever is best for you!” 

Ashland Library’s adult services has partnered with Rogue Valley Symphony, including a Music in the Library offering a once a month, in which local musicians share their talent on the main floor of the branch. Children’s services also participates in an all sorts of community outreach events and most recently has partnered with North Mountain Nature Park in offering fun, educational puppet shows and nature walks.

For information about upcoming events at the Ashland Library, visit https://jcls.libcal.com/.

Maybe I’m biased because I work here, but the Ashland Library is a special place. One of my favorite features is the giant Deodar cedar that graces the library’s front lawn. Its huge branches seem to hug a corner of the children’s department like a protective mother Ent. (An Ent is a species of large beings who resemble trees in author J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world.) 

There are so many neat things about the Ashland Library, from the historic photos found along the wall in the downstairs hall of the Carnegie, to original works by local artists, to the views of the Siskiyou Mountains. (Keep an eye out for Kristin Anderson’s upcoming post in which she will share some of the fascinating history about a particular statue found at the branch.) At the end of the day, the best thing about the Ashland Library is the relationships the staff have with our regular patrons, out of town visitors (including PCT thru hikers), and the community. So, if you happen to be in Ashland, stop by the library and check it out for yourself. Starting in December, the branch will have new, expanded hours, and will be open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and on the weekends 12:00 to 5:00 pm. 

Hopefully, like me, you too will discover the awesomeness of the Ashland Library.