Periodical Perusal Is by the Book

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), March 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

Periodical Perusal Is by the Book


Byline: Bob Welch / The Register-Guard

For years, the cultural anthropologist in me has marveled at the magazine selection at the Eugene Public Library.

What, I've asked myself, can we tell about who we are as a community by what we choose to read from the 500 magazines offered?

Why can you peruse a copy of, say, The Last Straw, the "international journal of strawbale and natural building," but not, say, American Demographics, considered by many to be the bible of quantifiable trends?

And how do the Dewey Decimals chefs of magazine fare decide what to put on the menu for us in the first place?

After researching this, I've learned that though Eugene has its pockets of quirkiness, we're far more mainstream than we might think.

That surprised even Sara Tripodi, a library assistant who ran a data search on what magazines are getting checked out and what aren't.

"There's nothing really `Eugenean' about the Top 20 list," she says. "The titles are right off the grocery store newsstand."

True, the library offers such eclectic magazines as Midwifery Today, Clay Times (ceramic trends and technology), Empty Vessel (a Taoist journal) and Bitch (the `feminist response to pop culture.'). True, those magazines aren't offered at, say, the Portland or Corvallis libraries.

But judging by our in-demand magazines, you'd think this were Marin County: The Top 10 consists of: Home (whose last eight issues circulated 128 times), House Beautiful, Fine Gardening, Consumer Reports, Sunset, In Style, Martha Stewart Living, Guitar Player, Cooking Light and Real Simple (streamlining your life, from the publishers of People).

Lest you think the list is going to suddenly segue into, say, Sprouts Illustrated (just kidding) and Anarchy Today (likewise), check out the next 10: Quilter's Newsletter, Glamour, House & Garden, Marie Claire (women's fashion, beauty, etc.), Vanity Fair, Vegetarian Times (finally!), Discover, Shape, Country Living and Fine Cooking. …

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