HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - A half-million dollar challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will go a long way toward helping Cornelius build a new library.Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici on Monday announced a $500,000 grant to help the city of Cornelius build a new library and community convening space.

The award comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant program and recognizes Cornelius Library’s commitment to improve the cultural and civic life of the city.

“The city of Cornelius deserves tremendous credit for its hard work to earn this extremely competitive grant,” said Wyden. “A new library and public space will provide residents of all ages with a wonderful asset for learning and community.”

“In many of our rural communities, libraries are the heart of the community,” said Merkley. “They are a gathering space for people of all ages to learn and grow, and serve as a crucial link for so many Oregonians whose only internet access may be the local library.

“This new library in Cornelius will help enrich the community and as a bonus will provide much needed senior affordable housing. This is a great day for the Cornelius community.”

Bonamici thanked the NEH and said the library “is an important part of the community, and they truly deserve support for their expansion. Many Cornelius residents have no Internet access at home and they rely on the library for important tasks like applying for jobs or checking their children’s grades. This expansion will include a much-needed community space, increase community access to computers, and provide local affordable housing.”

Cornelius Library Director Karen Hill lauded the project as a community investment.

“Cornelius has the highest level of poverty and illiteracy in Washington County,” Hill said. “The new space is designed to yield some amazing opportunities to provide new and expanded literacy and cultural services to the community.”

Construction is expected to begin in December 2016 on the new three-story building that will have a library and community space on the first floor and affordable senior apartments (funded separately by development partner Bienestar, Inc.) on the second and third floors. The new library will expand from 3,000 square feet to almost 14,000 square feet, including a 100-person community meeting room, four conference/study rooms, a teen zone and large collections of children’s and Spanish-language books.

Because this is a challenge grant, the Cornelius Library will need to raise $1.5 million in matching funds from donors.

The NEH is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.

The Cornelius Library is a member of Washington County Cooperative Library Services. For more information about the Cornelius Public Library, visit

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