PUBLIC PROFILE: Jordan Pease, Director of Rogue Valley Metaphysical Library
Near Rite Aid and adjacent to Subway in Ashland may not seem like the crossroads between enlightened and spiritual, but it is the new location of the Rogue Valley Metaphysical Library, a space more like an age-old apothecary shop than a strip mall, filled with wisdom, ideas and 1000s of books on metaphysics and the paranormal. Where better to be with Halloween around the corner.
RVM: Your mission, in part, is “providing easy access to a variety of information that inspires, heals and transforms.” Since the most recent presidential election, has there been an uptick in activity or check-outs?
JP: More than ever, people want practical solutions and like-minded community to explore them with. We very purposely steer clear of mainstream politics, and the people we serve tend to as well. The cliché adage of “teach a man to fish” is a core philosophy for us. Meaning that we concentrate on root causes and their potential solutions. For the last three years, we’ve produced a two-day event in response to that need called the Architects of the New Paradigm Conference Series. The presenters we choose are very accomplished in their various disciplines.
RVM: Has one section grown or shrunk over the past 15 years?
JP: Metaphysical is a strange concept in our society: a lot of people are deterred from coming here unfortunately because they have low regard for the idea. We’d love to change that perception because the majority of our titles are very relevant and practical for people in their everyday lives. Business skills and personal development for example, those sections have grown steadily over the years. There are about 12,000 items in the collection right now, about one third of them are audiobooks and videos.
RVM: Being that it is Halloween, some suggestions from the “paranormal” section?
JP: Anyone can search our lending collection online by author, subject or title. Here are a few Halloween-themed titles: Haunted Planet, Are you in Love with a Vampire?; Queen Mary Ghosts; History of Ghosts, Vampires and Werewolves; Haunted Houses for the Millions; Nantucket Hauntings; The Unexplained: Poltergeists.
RVM: What is your hope for the next 15 years with the library?
JP: It’s been interesting to experience the lifecycle of an organization; the successes and the challenges, and how the focus shifts over time. Event production wasn’t a component of our original vision, but in response to our patrons’ needs, it became a central focus of RVML’s “youth” years. And it’s been a terrific compliment to the library services and as a vehicle to serve our mission of education and community building.
Looking ahead, the next step is forming a research institute, the Ashland Research Institute, as another branch of our services. It’s the appropriate next step in our evolution. The distinction is making the findings widely known.
Producing audiobooks has been an idea for us for a long time, and we’ve got a lot of ideas for short-subject videos too.
We’ve had a “distance lending” program for many years, and I really like how our library services are serving people remotely. The logistics are tough of course, so we don’t promote it very much, mostly by invitation actually. Typically, only researchers and educators are the ones we mail items to anymore, and so I’d like to see that program grow more and devote some more resource to it.
RVM: Is there an event or offering that you would like more people to take advantage of?
JP: We’re a nonprofit community resource center more than just a library. Borrowing privileges are only $30 per year. In addition to the lending collection and our events, we also operate a Media Exchange. People bring books and other media and exchange them at no cost. There are all subjects there, not just spirituality and metaphysics. Mostly books, but we exchange CDs and DVDs too. We run it on the honor system, and it’s worked just fine that way for many years. In our new space, the Media Exchange is smaller than before, about 1,000 items to choose from, but the selection is more dynamic than ever.