By Kyle Odegard
February 6, 2017
JEFFERSON – Residents have worked since 2009 to create a new library for this small town, and their efforts are finally paying off.
A groundbreaking for the new Jefferson Public Library, which will be adjacent to City Hall, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 23.
“I’m giddy,” said Linda Baker, president of the Friends of the Jefferson Library. “This group has worked a long time.”
She hopes that the building will be finished and occupied before the end of the year. “That’s our goal. One never knows,” Baker added.
The building is being paid for through donations and grants totaling $850,000. The city also donated land for the project. (In 2014, the city purchased the lot, which also could include an extension of City Hall, for $150,000.)
“It’s been a long time coming, and the city is really in support of this,” said City Recorder Sarah Cook.
The library building, which will include a community meeting room, will be about 4,000 square feet.
“The current library is about 800 square feet,” Baker said. That library has been in a wing of the Conser House, 128 N. Main Street, since 1938. But the 1854 structure needs repairs, it isn’t accessible to the disabled and it is extremely cramped.
Librarian Katherine Pitman said that she struggles to find room for all the DVDs and books in the facility. “This is the teen section, and we just added two new shelves, because everything was packed to the end,” she added.
“I definitely want more space for kids to be able to read and for people to be able to use their computers,” Pitman said.
Baker said a meeting room will be a plus for the town, as the Jefferson Community Center, the city’s main gathering place, is usually booked. “There also will be a courtyard area, so hopefully the library can open up to the courtyard for special events,” she said.
Tensions rose last year as the city and the Friends of the Library disagreed about certain aspects of the project. But things were smoothed over when the Jefferson Planning Commission approved the project in May.
Baker said that the new library could still use donations to cover inflation and other unforeseen expenses, which can be made online at www.jeffersonoregonfol.com or sent to the Jefferson Friends of the Library at P.O. Box 656, Jefferson, OR 97352.