Sunday marks new era for Library

A book is a product of an author’s imagination, research, or muse. A book is also made possible by the efforts of the editor, proofreader, publisher, printer, and often countless other individuals.

Transfer the same concept of an array of contributions to the impressive community facility on State Street: the “new” Hood River County Library. The $4 million expansion project is all but complete, and on Sunday the community will celebrate a great accomplishment.

The library’s new era started with The Millennium Project, a five-year effort to expand and remodel the County Library. The works and contributions of a wide variety of people — from the community members who donated money to the builders who put up the bricks, pipes, wire, and shelving — are all described in the special section that is part of this edition of the Hood River News.

The “Project Millennium” section, named for the fundraising project that started in 1998, details the way the old Carnegie Building was melded with the new construction in a way that preserves the historic 1913 building yet gives the public a modern library for its changing needs.

The story behind the project is one of community pride and determination, and the building itself is functional and welcoming to diverse users. Kids have flocked to the expanded basement children’s section, and adults are enjoying the relaxed and well-lighted upstairs rooms for reading, computer use, and research.

The words of State Librarian Jim Scheppke perhaps say it best. The first group to meet in the new building’s Community Room was the State Library Board, prompting Scheppke to write to County Library Director June Knudson the following letter:

“On behalf of the Oregon State Library Board of Trustees, I want to thank you for hosting our Board meeting ... The building is fabulous! If there was an award for ‘best views’ of any library in Oregon, yours would win it hands down. Everyone associated with your project is to be commended for the obvious care and commitment that went into meeting your goal to transform a treasured old library into a beautiful and fully-functional library for the 21st century. I am glad that you were pleased with the work of (architects) FFA. Your library continues their winning streak of outstanding historic library renovation projects, ours included. Again, my congratulations to you and to your Library Foundation and County officials for the successful completion of an outstanding library building project.”

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