The Rogue Valley Metaphysical Library has new quarters, with an adjacent coffee house and an art gallery with an open mic for live music and workshops.
The library, at 1757 Ashland St., has five times more books than it did at its previous location.
The library was started in 2002 by Jordan Pease. An annual fee of $30 allows checkouts of materials on a variety of spiritual, paranormal and personal development subjects, according to its website.
In addition to the lending library, RVML operates a media exchange where people can trade items on any subject at no cost.
The media exchange model means the library accepts donated books on any subject “by the truckload,” which people can grab for free (donations are welcome) and, hopefully, circulate in the community, Pease says.
Sales of more valuable books online is a “major profit center” and helps keep the shop financially stable.
The central part is the lending library, which is focused on spirituality, psychology, personal development, healing, the paranormal, metaphysics, art, poetry, business and ET/UFO. Members can borrow four items for up to two people for two weeks, with a one-week renewal.
Pease acknowledges the word metaphysical can be “off-putting to some people, but I want to emphasize we offer lots of things you won’t normally think of as metaphysical, like psychology, parenting, history, biography — and we have lots of audio books. We also check out hardware to play any media.”
The catalog of books is digital and searchable on your phone. It’s a nonprofit, and membership is tax-deductible. Many unusual and esoteric seminars are preserved on DVD.
“We endure and succeed because of the generous contributions of the community,” says Pease. “Ashland loves books, and we want to live and grow in a community that loves books. A resource like this doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country that I know of. Sometimes people come in here and get teary, realizing this kind of resource is available to them at a very low cost.”
Books and coffee have a time-honored relationship, and RVML finally has a spot, the adjoining Awake Cafe, for patrons to relax with a new tome and chat it up with friends. It features organic teas from all over the world, coffee and espresso drinks, soups, sandwiches and baked goods from 4 & 20 Blackbirds, Gluten Free Paradise and Gourmet Lunchbox. Some dishes come from Sauce.
The cafe doubles as a performance and seminar space, has an open mic that owner Connie McGonagle says anyone can use at any time, with cafe hours from 6 in the morning until midnight.
“We had 30 performances in just the nine days we’ve been open — and a couple of people read out of books they’re writing,” she says.
Coming up is a four-part series, “How to Think: a Crash Course in Critical Thinking,” presented by Marla Estes, founder of the School of the Examined Life, and Rob Schläpfer, a former pastor and professor. Their organization is called Bridging the Divide, and Pease says that’s vitally needed in our divided society, where it’s a challenge to get at the truth. The series starts April 4 and costs $45.
The cafe doubles as an art gallery, with every inch of wall space occupied by 145 paintings by 29 artists, all local and, says McGonagle, some who’ve never hung their work before and weren’t sure if it was “worthy.”
“It’s worthy!” she said. “We’ve sold nine pieces already, and I’ll show anyone.”
RVML event coordinator Nikki Clifton says the coffee, late hours and open-minded spirit of exploration are attracting three or four new members a day, and are a magnet for college students, whose library shutters at 9 p.m.
“It’s a dream come true, kind of like the old school San Francisco beatnik spirit,” says Pease.
RVML and Awake Cafe will hold its grand-opening party from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, March 16, with live music, wine and cheese, and tours of the library.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.