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Jefferson County Library District Board doesn't expect to float bond to pay for expansion

HOLLY SCHOLZ/MADRAS PIONEER
 - The Rodriguez Annex east of the library will soon come down to make room for library expansion.

The Jefferson County Library District's Adele and Sumner Rodriguez Annex and the building north of the annex will be demolished this month to make way for a library expansion.

"The board members understand their fiduciary responsibility, and they are moving forward on this project at a slow and deliberate manner," said Jefferson County Library Director Jane Ellen Innes.

The library board has been preparing for an expansion since 2010 when it purchased the buildings around the library.

With the help of the Endowment Foundation and securing a loan, the library purchased the annex building east of the library in 2000. The cinder block structure with a prominent steeple was built in 1960 and was home to the Assembly of God Church. The name honors the Madras Rodriguez couple who were strong supporters of the library.

The library used the annex for meeting areas, storage and the film center. During the pandemic, the space has been used for the Friends of the Library annual book sale, Twice Read Books, offices and classrooms.

Innes said a recent inspection of the annex found that it cannot withstand high winds and heavy snow. Substantial improvements to a building, such as a new roof, would require it to be ADA compliant. This safety issue, combined with improvement costs, influenced the board's decision to demolish the annex.

"If we wait, the demolition costs will increase, and even if it were still standing, it would remain vacant," Innes pointed out. "The annex was purchased specifically to provide space for expanding the library, and the board knows that moving ahead with the demolition is a fiscally sound thing to do."

HOLLY SCHOLZ/MADRAS PIONEER - H&H Construction crews have started demolishing the duplex north of the library annex to make way for the library's expansion.The duplex rental directly north of the annex will also be removed. Innes said it is more cost-effective to remove both structures simultaneously. Including required inspections, the cost of demolition for both buildings is $160,000. The library hired H&H Construction, a local company, through a bid process. The demolition will begin in mid-September.

In addition to operating expenses savings, the library district has received donations designated for expanding the library. Funds from the building and improvement account will be used for the project.

"We've been fortunate to receive significant contributions designated for an expansion," Innes said.

The land currently occupied by the annex will remain vacant until the library expansion project begins.

The board will eventually hire an architect to design an addition to the existing library building.

"The board will solicit community input, and a some of us will visit similar libraries – we are researchers, after all," Innes said.

The estimated cost of the expansion will not be known until the building requirements, facility use options, size and appearance are determined. In addition to the funds set aside by the library and the Endowment Foundation, the board will look into grants and draft a fundraising strategy. The board does not intend to ask the community for a construction bond.

The library district recently updated the inside of the main library building with new flooring, fresh paint, updated seating, restroom upgrades and a redesigned circulation desk. The building exterior has been painted, and trees around the building are being removed for structural and safety reasons.

After the trees are removed, landscaping in the front of the building and E Street side will be modified to make it low maintenance, bring more sunlight to the library's interior, and discourage loitering.

Innes said the next step in the library expansion project is for the board to determine if they want to use an owner representative to assist with the architect selection. They must still determine if the expansion project needs a fundraising consultant.

"We have tried to make efficient use of the existing 6,000-square-foot building," Innes said. "We are occupying every inch of usable space."

By expanding the library, young people and adults will have separate areas. It will have a heritage center that will house the Oregon collection and genealogy resources. The Friends of the Library will have its own space. The addition will provide the community with a large group meeting room that has a separate entrance for use after hours, several small group meeting rooms, study carrels, and a dedicated space for community members seeking career/job resources and healthcare resources.

"I welcome suggestions from the people we serve," Innes said, noting the library's mission to strengthen the community through opportunities to educate, engage and explore. "Every decision we make revolves around fulfilling our mission and working toward our vision."

"A warm, welcoming and friendly space can be hard to find, and libraries have the opportunity to be a community gathering place," said Library Board Chair Karen Esvelt. "It's our goal to continue to enhance our community partnerships to provide ever-evolving services to our community and to provide relevant programs."


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