Library celebrates newest chapter

Tables of food stood in place of bookshelves Saturday as supporters of the Hood River County Library celebrated the facility’s newest chapter.

“The community is building this library,” Library Foundation President Linda Rouches told a crowd of about 200 people gathered in the building.

The event was the public’s last look inside the 90-year-old Carnegie Building before builders move in starting this week and prepare for the $4 million renovation and expansion project scheduled over the next year.

Another $250,000 needs to be raised for the project, Foundation member and fundraising coordinator Paul Lindberg said. The campaign received a big boost from three community groups, including a $30,000 check from the Rotary Foundation, presented to Rouches by Rotary president Paul Thompson. Paul Randall of Friends of the Library presented the first of two $7,500 checks, and Jean Harmon of Soroptimists International gave $3,000.

A silent auction raised another several thousand dollars, including Elizabeth Garber’s $325 bid on a painting of the library entrance by Elizabeth Anderson. Morgan Stanley of Hood River sponsored the party. Face-painting, ice cream, balloon animals, and ice cream cones kept children occupied in the basement. Children and adults also signed their names and left messages on paper commemorative murals.

Library Director June Knudson said the library is currently “betwixt and between,” with all the books boxed up and in the process of being shelved in the library’s temporary quarters in the Dean Building across the street. It’s scheduled to open July 1.

Knudson said Saturday’s party is “a continuation of our 85th anniversary party five years ago,” when a festive open house was held just in advance of the last remodeling project.

Voters approved $3 million in bonds in November 1999, setting in motion the needed renovation and expansion project.

“This happened because the people of Hood River said it could happen,” Knudson said. “There are scores of people who each worked in their own ways to see it would happen.”

Rouches told the audience, “We’re not going to wait another 90 years to give the library some help again. The Foundation will be asking for your help again.”

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