When deciding which libraries to visit in Portland, OR the Reed College library was number one on my list. Yes, I almost attended Lewis and Clark College and yes, Portland State is more centrally located, but Reed College has a special place in my heart. Let me explain:
If you were anything like me and discovered (and fell in love with) anti-establishment punk rock while in high school in the early 2000’s, you might have considered (as I did) shocking your middle class, college-educated parents by foregoing college and staying at your minimum-wage retail job.
(For the sake of this story I am not going to delve into the insane amount of race and class privilege my high school self had yet to acknowledge, I’ll simply ask that you to give me a pass, for now.)
Despite your best laid plans of rebelliousness, though, you or any number of your friends might have found this break from expectation just a little too much to handle. If so, you may have set your sights on Reed College. Located in the rainy, counter-culture haven of Portland, OR it was the college without grades or majors. The college that was full, in our minds at least, of badass, punk rock students doing their own thing. The college that was just shocking enough. Basically, Reed was a promised land – it was the stuff of high school fantasies for me and my angst-y teenaged friends.
When I finally arrived at Reed, it was both exactly like what I’d been envisioning and nothing like I had imagined. It was smaller, older, more suburban, and greener than I had expected. Also, there was way less pot (note: in reality, there is always less pot than my high school self imagined there would be – do you notice this as well?)
What there was, though, was a lovely library that stays open until 2:30 am most nights and that contains, in addition to an extensive print and electronic collection, copies of all student theses written by Reed graduates beginning in 1964. That’s not all, the thesis collection is housed in the thesis tower! Awesome. As if that weren’t reason enough to get excited, the creative student graffiti and hand made signage as well as the plethora of students engaged in (what appeared to be) serious academic inquiry really made me never want to leave.
In the end I didn’t even apply to Reed, choosing instead to stay close to home and to my then boyfriend. After breaking up with said boyfriend, I ended up having a great time in college, but my visit to the Reed College Library definitely made me wonder about what might have been…
For more information about the Reed College Library, visit their website at http://library.reed.edu/