Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

Here it comes. The last “At the Library” column of what seems the worst year in memory, when citizens are promised a designer vaccine within a few months to suppress the runaway spread of Covid-19.

This, as members of a do-nothing congress and their staffs receive the vaccine at the earliest possible date before the essential workers who have literally been dying to save patients from joining 325, 000 fellow Americans who have passed prematurely, most unnecessarily during the past eleven months.

Dr. Brian Monahan, the congressional physician, urges members of Congress to inoculate immediately.

Chris Sununu, governor of New Hampshire, disagrees angrily, however, to representatives and senators jumping ahead of medical workers and residents of nursing facilities. He explained why.

“Because every single one of those vials that’s being used for a congressman or a senator who has been doing nothing, that hasn’t been on the front lines, is another vial of vaccine that isn’t going to a nurse or a resident in a long-term care facility,” Sununu explained, adding, “Since when is doing nothing an essential function.”

Volunteers at the Cannon Beach Library cannot be accused of losing sight of the needs and safety of library patrons and Cannon Beach and Arch Cape residents in response to the increased spread of Covid in Clatsop County.

With their help and city advice, the Library Board has reinstituted limited browsing on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., allowing no more than two people in the library for no more than 10 minutes to browse. Any books removed from shelves must be placed in a box so they can be quarantined before being restocked.

Limited browsing was suspended briefly when Gov. Kate Brown issued a new emergency order restricting indoor activities.

Residents of Cannon Beach and Arch Cape may still call or email the library to reserve books and make an appointment to pick them up on Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m. Volunteers will bag and place patrons’ names on their orders for easy identification.

The library board took note at its December meeting of the dedicated group of talented desk volunteers who have made it possible to keep library services available in Cannon Beach and Arch Cape during the changes and experimentation brought by the pandemic:

“They are our essential workers, and without them we couldn’t provide our door-side pickup and limited browsing services to the community’” the board agreed.

When encountering these desk volunteers, indicate your appreciation for their contribution to the community. They include Theresa Dice, Karen French, Linda Gephart, Mary Kerwin, Claire Landrum, Nancy McCarthy, Marjorie MacQueen, Jeremy Randolph, Jane Swynenburg, Doug Sugano and Linda Sugano.

There are also several deadlines and virtual events at the library in January to keep in mind.

Monday, January 11, is the deadline for submitting no more than three literary entries of less than 600 words each for inclusion in the 2021 Writers Read Celebration via Zoom on Saturday, February 20, at 7 p.m. Details are available under “Library News” on the website.

Wednesday, January 13, Elaine Truckee, director of the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum, will present a unique history of Cannon Beach Rock at 7 p.m. via FacebookLive@friendsofhaystackrock. Trucke will explore the crazier stories associated with our iconic sea stack. Her presentation is sponsored by the World of Haystack Rock Library Lecture Series.

Wednesday, January 20, Cannon Beach Reads breaks from its usual boundaries at 7 p.m. Members will each read a favorite poem via Zoom, followed by a group discussion of the innermost, deep, hidden meanings members find in their poems. Cannon Beach Reads invites anyone interested in probing literature in a friendly group discussion to participate.

Saturday, January 23, Northwest Authors Series will sponsor local author Jennifer Greer via Zoom. Greer will read from and discuss “A Desperate Place,” her recently published first novel. This debut crime thriller--set in Greer’s hometown of Medford, Oregon—features two female detectives, one a medical examiner and the other a journalist, who collaborate on an investigation of a series of deaths in Medford.

After graduating from Fresno State University with a degree in English and journalism, she worked as a crime reporter at the Fresno Bee.

During her final year at Fresno State, Greer had traveled through Europe where she enrolled in a foreign correspondence course in Germany and produced award-winning coverage of the war in Croatia. After returning to the United States, she settled again in Medford near her family where she raised her own children.

This column concludes with a quick pitch for “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean, a skilled practitioner of detail-rich new journalism.

Published in 2018, “The Library Book” examines the 1986 fire at the Central Library in Los Angeles, the largest library fire in the history of the United States. Even after more than thirty years and an extensive investigation, forensic experts were unable to determine the origin of the fire.

Describing the fire is the baseline of “The Library Book,” but more interesting is Orlean’s treatment of the history of the library’s directors and their unique personalities, the changing mission of the library as well as the relationship between the library and the community and the use of the library as a refuge during an era of homelessness.

And then there’s Orlean’s memories of her own experience with libraries from childhood and her rediscovery of them as an adult. And then there’s the rich, in-depth information Orlean incorporates from her extensive interviews about the science of fire and the history of libraries.

Rarely do all those participating in a meeting of Cannon Beach Reads share the same reaction to a book being discussed. Reaction at this month’s discussion of “The Library Book” didn’t necessarily surprise me, but it was surprisingly unanimous.

Every participant told stories of the lasting impact the local library had on their childhoods and early educations. “The Library Book” blew everyone away, last Wednesday. I’d lay money on Orlean’s masterpiece doing the same for you.

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