Hundreds crowd library terrace to share in eclipse experience

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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When Eugene Messer watched the 1979 eclipse, it wasn’t a mob scene like this year’s event.

He went to the replica Stonehenge monument near the Maryhill Museum of Art, where Druids in costumes danced around chanting and burning herbs, he said.

“They brought the sun back,” Messer of Vancouver said. “They were sure they did.”

While Messer didn’t travel to the path of totality this time, he was happy to wait on line a few hours Monday morning to secure a good spot on the fifth-floor terrace at the Vancouver Community Library. The library was one of the most popular spots in the city for watching the eclipse on Monday, as an estimated 650-plus people visited, according to Jamie Bair, experiential learning librarian. The library had 400 pairs of eclipse viewing glasses to give out, all of which were gone about a half-hour after the library opened at 9 a.m. Some had lined up at 7 a.m.

“It was imperative to us when we heard about the eclipse in January to plan something,” Bair said. “We have access to all these resources and we have room on the terrace and the lawn. We thought it was a great place for people to come together and learn.”

On Monday, the library also had the NASA-TV stream of eclipse coverage playing in the Columbia Room when guests first walked into the building, along with a display of related books. In the lead-up to the eclipse, Bair said there was a noticeable increase in patrons taking out books about astronomy.

The library also had paper plates on hand Monday to help make the eclipse glasses more adjustable.

Kids, and adults, all over the library were walking around Monday morning with plates hanging off their faces. Some families, such as Renee Jacobson, Will Jacobson and Lorelei Jacobson of Vancouver, brought homemade eclipse viewing boxes. Will Jacobson made their viewing boxes out of Kix and Raisin Bran cereal boxes. Renee and Will Jacobson wanted to bring Lorelei, 3, out to see her first eclipse and create a memory they could all share.

Miranda Koivisto, 9, of Vancouver was happy to see the eclipse because it’s a “once in a lifetime experience.” Her sister, Mikayla Koivisto, 6, said it’s something she’ll remember for the rest of her life.

“I want to see it again,” said Brooklyn Johnson, 10, of Vancouver.

Brooklyn also liked that the street lights turned on as it got darker. Mikayla said the sun “looked like a banana.”