Vancouver Library

Dang!  Watch out, Portland.  You’re being stomped by Vancouver’s Library.

I admit, I’m one of those Portlanders who, in the past, has occasionally looked down their nose at our neighbors to the north.  For years, Vancouver has been the ugly step-child across the river, the only reason most people ever cross is to buy fireworks on the 4th of July. (Or in my case, to play some putt-putt at Steakburger.)

But lately Vancouver is kind of kicking butt.  In the last year, Washington legalized gay marriage, legalized marijuana and privatized liquor.  Meanwhile, Vancouver has been quietly been working to outshine one of our most prized public institutions, the public library system.  I love Portland’s libraries, especially the Central Library downtown, but holy cow!  The library in Vancouver is REALLY NICE.

This weekend we did the the Vancouver City Walk from Laura O. Foster’s book Portland City Walks: Twenty Explorations In And Around Town which took us past the new library that opened during the summer of 2011.  While the Portland Central Library is in a beautiful, old, historic building, this is modern, sleek and high tech.

VXR Library Legal

The bottom floor has a coffee stand and some great sunny seating.  The second floor is just for children, full of books, storytelling sections and a very impressive play area, full of natural light and lots of places to hide.  Above that is the non-fiction floor with some cool study areas.

But the top floor really impressed me, with a beautiful reading area, complete with a fireplace, comfy chairs and a view!  The windows look out onto a terrace where you can see all the way out to the Columbia River.  In the summer, I’d imagine this spot is spectacular.

I don’t know if I’ll be back soon because there are places closer to my house to hang out, but I will seriously consider it this summer just for that rooftop terrace.

If only they served cocktails…

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