Abilash Gunta calls the Hillsboro Public Library “truly my happy place.” Since immigrating from Bangalore, India, in 2015 to work for a technology company, the Brookwood location has quickly become a meaningful destination for his growing family. Of all the venues where he brought his parents when they visited the U.S., the library was their favorite. “They could not believe the size and beauty of it,” he says.
He sat down with WCCLS to talk about the freedom that comes with a Washington County library card and the endless array of surprising things you can borrow. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
WCCLS: What makes the Hillsboro Public Library your happy place?
AG: Where I come from, the libraries are usually apartment-sized or a little bigger. I was surprised at the size [of Brookwood], that was the first thing that stood out. And with the pond and nature, it’s very peaceful to be around.
Inside the library itself you can find quiet corners on the second floor where all the huge book aisles are. There’s always a corner with a nice couch. I enjoy sitting there with a book. I was also impressed with the policy of [being able to check out] 100 items. It was a culture shock for me. At the libraries I was used to [in India], you can take like two books and you have to return one before you take the next one. It was so freeing.
WCCLS: What kinds of books do you like to read?
AG: It keeps changing. In 2015, I was into non-fiction and biographies about people like Obama and Steve Jobs. Then I enjoyed reading mysteries and thrillers, lately Japanese mysteries and thrillers. I enjoy the comics and anime, which the library has plenty of.
WCCLS: What did your family think of the library when you first brought them here?
AG: It was my wife’s first time outside of India and it was very cold when she came. I lived very close to the library and visiting became our thing. I was working from home half the time. I would just take my laptop to the library and she would take her own book.
We had our first baby in June 2021 and his first visit to the “outside” world was the library. He’s still just a baby but he gets excited looking at the books.
WCCLS: What else do you enjoy about the library besides the books and the greenspace?
AG: The thing that’s amazing, even though I go to the Hillsboro Public Library every week or every other week, I keep discovering new things. First books, then DVDs, then the makerspace. I was doing 3D printing and I discovered Library of Things. I borrowed a guitar and a yogurt maker and tested our power usage. I borrowed a telescope but didn’t use it too much because of the cloudy weather.
Cloudy skies may be commonplace in Washington County but our public libraries are anything but run-of-the-mill. If you agree and would like to be featured on the blog as our WCCLS bookworm, email us at email@example.com. Tell us in 300 words or less why you should be our next bookworm. If selected, we will interview you and arrange for a professional photographer to take your picture at your favorite Washington County library.
Patrons of all ages are welcome to send submissions. However, anyone under the age of 18 will require written permission from a parent or guardian to be featured. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.
Photos by Thomas Teal.