Casually dressed, middle-aged Linda Huston kindheartedly greets the third member to enter the library on a typical rainy day in Eugene. High-pitched voice and all matches her petite size as she reaches over the counter to hug her guest, as if she has known this woman for years. Yet, Huston simply welcomes everyone in such a kind manner with her widened smile, seemingly overpowering any of her other attributes.
Initially stepping foot inside the library, books immediately catch your eyes from all angles. Tall stacks of colorful novels surround the walls and subdue each corner of the room. The building itself is rather small, yet elongated as you reach another boxed area towards the back of the library where books are typically stored. Huston works in the front office, as she habitually sits near the computers, eagerly welcoming members and guests that enter through the front door towards her right. The library has a calming atmosphere, as it is silent and quite peaceful, just as her apparel represents a sense of casual nature, as she is able to wear mostly whatever she desires because of how relaxed the working environment is.
Linda Huston has been the volunteer coordinator at the River Road Santa Clara Volunteer Library for the past 9 years. The rectangular shaped building is located on the corner of Oakleigh Lane, as it is held comfortably in a quite neighborhood, surrounding by local residents that are in fact members of the library themselves. Huston expresses her immense enthusiasm and passion towards offering her assistance to non-profits and the local community as a whole.
The River Road Santa Clara Volunteer Library is a non-profit organization that was open towards the public in June of 2005. This volunteer program works to maintain library services for the River Road community, keeping the accessibility open to all members of the surrounding society. Currently, 30,000 individuals who live within the River Road Santa Clara area have full access to low cost library services that were once unavailable to the people. With a plethora of over 15,000 books, a variety of other materials, and a low yearly fee of only $15, this library is extremely accessible to all members of the community.
To upkeep this non-profit library, the volunteer members typically seeks donations for new or gently used books. Huston is also involved with the book sales that are held once or twice a year, as well as rummage sales in order to preserve the building and costs. All of the books within the library are donated by local residents, or sponsored through grants, such as the Indian Tribe grant, and the Sisters In Crime organization.
There are currently 10 members that work here, all volunteers that do not get paid. Huston’s position offers support and answers for individuals that have interest towards volunteering or becoming a member of the library, such as local neighbor Fonda Hulkum, who lives across the street and recently became a member of the library about three months ago. “Everyone is extremely nice, but especially Linda,” she said. “You will not walk in the building without seeing her smiling face, always welcoming others as if it were her own home.”
Huston has lived in the River Road district since 1968 and first came to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon in 1962. Once she married her husband, they moved into an established home within the area and have lived there ever since. She asserts how this district is a lovely place to live, granted some neighborhoods have different issues in regards to safety, crime and other concerns, yet all in all she enjoys the surrounding environment and feels as though she will remain here for the rest of her life.
In 2003, Huston came on board before the library officially opened, as she heard word from her dear friend about a possible opportunity to get back into her passion as a librarian. Working in Junction City for 31 years, Huston began to miss her role as a librarian, which brought her out of retirement and quickly into volunteering due to her immense passion about books and the library as a whole. With her position, she occasionally mediates disputes amongst volunteers, simply trying to get people together with workable solutions for everyone, maintaining a healthy environment for all.
“This was a great fit for me, making sure that library access continues,” she said. “In spite of what the media may tell you about books slowing diminishing, it is simply not true. People are reading like crazy.” It was evident after speaking with Huston that she loves volunteering, claiming that despite the pay, she feels accomplished with what she is doing. “I’ve been playing, doing a lot of singing, traveling, and ultimately doing what makes me happy,” she says. “As long as I am passionate about my life that’s all that really matters to me.” You can only hope that more people like Linda Huston enter this world with such frivolous nature, putting other people before themselves and making communities healthier and safer places to live and ultimately be apart of.