Sunday, September 6, 2009

3. Sonoma Valley Library

Sonoma County is a pretty hefty county. Now that I've reviewed the two libraries closest to me, it's time to start trekking, with each library taking me further and further afield.

Sonoma Valley Regional Library
755 W. Napa Street
Sonoma, CA 9

Books checked out:
"Last Night, " James Salter
"Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee," Meera Syal
"Another Day in the Frontal Lobe (a brain surgeon exposes life on the inside)," Katrina Firlik

Book Selection: 2 bookmarks
Seating: 1 bookmark
Staff : 4 bookmarks
Ambiance/Architecture: 1 bookmark
Overall: 8 bookmarks

The Sonoma Valley Regional Library is in the town of Sonoma which GoogleMaps said was 29 minutes away from my house. Having driven to the town countless times, I thought that was just wrong, it had to be less than 20 minutes. I am notoriously time-delusional, though, so I decided to time it. I might have beat the time, if I'd remembered to write down street number. I did remember the street (yay, score one for the brain!), so I figured I'd drive into the quaint old-town plaza of Sonoma where W. Napa starts and cruise out on it -- I'd have to pass it, right? Just when it seemed I had gone too far, and the questions began: did I miss it? did I have the street wrong after all? --there it was. 31 minutes. Dang!

Definitley an unprepossessing exterior to this library, and the interior was even less pre-possessing. Outside, all brick and sleek lines, a low-slung rectangle with a peaked roof and privacy walls; inside, one very, very large rectangle. In fact, the library was basically one huge room, with the stacks themselves creating u-shaped cubicles, each with a work-table and four padded chairs. And these were the comfortable chairs. The children's library was a sizeable chunk of the floor space, well over to one side, defined mostly by lower shelves and smaller reading chairs.

It was not a charming environment; it reminded me of a high school library or a store in a mall: everything was on display and all activity could be viewed from the centrally placed circulation desk. No hiding here. It may be a very useful library, as most libraries are, but it wasn't a library I'd want to linger in unless I was waiting for a bus or for a parent to pick me up.

(I forgot about the groovy rug!)

For all of that, the library was well-populated. The computer terminals, placed right in the middle of the library room, were all in use, and almost all the work tables had someone reading or studying or working on a project. One such project involved a plethora of sticky-notes all over the pages of a notebook.

When I asked one of the very nice librarians when the branch was built, she said, with an apologetic grimace, "maybe about 30-ish years ago, in the 70's, which is why it looks the way it does. " So I guess it's no secret. It seems to be a somewhat neglected second-cousin of the system, surprising when you consider the high chi-chi, toney reputation of the town of Sonoma. I would imagine it's the next in line for renovation, but then I haven't seen many of the others yet.

I had hoped this library would be downtown Sonoma, necessitating a visit to the Sonoma Jack Cheese store, or the Basque Boulangerie, because as much as the county is considered Wine Country these days, the town of Sonoma is all about the food. Yumminess is to be found on every street and on every side of the plaza. Although the library was well away from downtown, I noticed that across the street was the Artisan Bakery, so all was not lost. Before I went home, hopped over for a loaf of tomato-basil bread and a Pear Ginger Muffin, very yum. Score Five Yummie Marks right there.

It wasn't so much that I got lost going home, but, because I believe in back roads and short cuts, I decided to "follow my nose," home, you know, just head back the way I figured I should go, hoping to cut some time off that darn Googly Map time. Oh,my the games we play with ourselves. I didn't get lost, really, just ran a stop sign and had to make a swift u-turn to get back on track. So I barely shaved three minutes off the time on the way back.

I know I promised to cut back on my book selestion, but...well, I hadn't read any of Salter's work, though I've heard so much about him, and it's a really, really thin book of short stories. And "Life Isn't all Ha Ha Hee Hee"...who could resist?

As for "Another Day in the Frontal Lobe," seemed like it was part of a theme. Here's the opening prapgraph, which convinced me:
"The brain is soft. Some of my colleagues compare it to toothpaste, but that's not quite right. It doesn't spread like toothpaste. It doesn't adhere to your fingers in the way toothpaste does. Tofu-the soft variety, if you know tofu-maybe a more accurate comparison. If you cut out a sizable cube of the brain it retains its shape, more or less, although not quite as well as tofu. Damaged or swollen brain, on the other hand, is softer. Under pressure, it will readily express itself out of a hole in the skull made by a high-speed surgical drill. Perhaps the toothpaste analogy is more appropriate in under these circumstances."

So, if you'll excuse me, I have some fascinating reading to get to.


  1. I love the food combination with this library! I can't believe my journey is almost over and I never thought to sample a taco shop with every San Diego library!

    For better or worse, I will never look at tofu quite the same. But I may check out "Another Life in the Frontal Lobe"; it sounds fascinating.

  2. yeah, LOL...that would have been perfect! Tofu will never be the same for me either.


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