In an increasingly digital age, Tim Cook feels there's something refreshing about the tangibility of a book. He's spent over 30 years in higher education and finds solace in its "old school" format.
Cook, who recently moved from Vancouver, Washington to West Linn and has served as the president of Clackamas Community College since 2018, has made it his goal to pass on that love through his new community library.
After helping create one of 10 such libraries through the Little Free Library program — small boxes where individuals can donate as well as take others' books — through the Rotary Club of Vancouver, Cook has already assembled one outside of his West Linn home. He saw a small library fashioned out of an old newspaper box and elected to try that approach, crafting his own out of an old box from The Columbian.
To stock the library, Cook culled through old books he used to read to his children — all three in their late teens and early-to-mid 20s now. Soon enough, the library's give-and-take ecosystem was flowing without a hitch.
"In Vancouver, people used it all the time," he said. "In fact, it was funny — people would leave way more books than they would take. I was constantly donating books and things because we just didn't have enough room for it."
His West Linn library hasn't been up for long, but so far it's getting plenty of attention, especially from local youth.
"My favorite part I have noticed, and the nice thing about having it at the house, is I can see kids open it up and get excited about grabbing books," Cook said.
Cook was the first member of his family to attend college. He studied education, picking up a bachelor's degree in English at Western Oregon University, a master's in counseling and psychology at Lewis & Clark College and later a doctorate in higher education administration from Oregon State University.
Over the last three decades, he's worked his way up through academia, spending time in a multitude of roles helping young adults make informed choices about their education and navigate the college experience.
After an extended stint at Clark College in Vancouver, Cook pounced at the opening at CCC — located just five minutes from his childhood home.
He hopes to provide youth with the guidance he didn't himself have. He's relished the chance to make a difference wherever possible, he said.
The community library is just another outlet for Cook to pass on his endearment with education.
"(It's) really kind of a fun way to get people reading and connected," he said. "The biggest surprise for me, though, or the most fun part about it, is what I'll find that people put in there. Sometimes I'll just go out and look for a book and pick something that I would have never chosen anywhere else."
Cook said he tends to enjoy psychology books. Thanks to the library, he finds himself reading historical fiction and mystery/crime novels as well.
It's this type of discovery, and the joy in tow, that Cook hopes to instill in others through his new library.
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