Library annex demolition makes way for expansion
There comes the point in life when you have to let go of the things that hold you back. For the Jefferson County Library District, that means removing the Rodriguez Annex located east of the main library building to make room for expansion.
With the help of the Endowment Foundation and securing a loan, the library purchased the building in 2000. The annex is a cinder block structure built in 1960 and was home to the Assembly of God Church (now the Living Hope Christian Center). At that time, the 40-year-old building was in reasonably good condition.
After acquiring the building, the JCLD immediately put it to good use; it provided us with needed storage and meeting areas. Adding to the library's capacity allowed us to turn rooms in the existing library meeting room into offices (imagine the entire library staff in the current technical services room located behind the computer area).
In 2002, the library christened the building the Adele and Sumner Rodriguez Annex to honor the couple, who were strong supporters of the Jefferson County Library. Adele Rodriguez was a member of the newly formed Library Association Board in 1957 when Judge Dussault appointed her and four others to the library board. She worked tirelessly with fundraising campaigns, local programs and library services. She even picked up a paintbrush a couple of times to help decorate the different buildings that housed the library over the years.
The Rodriguez Annex was made available to the public for meetings and later became the home of the film center when there was no movie theater in Madras. A volunteer Film Committee selected and presented weekly movies free to the community.
It has added space for library programming during the pandemic – we have used it as a homework center, offices, a drama classroom. It was home to the Friends of the Library annual book sale, and more recently, the Twice Read Books has occupied a couple of the basement rooms. Earlier this year, when we installed new flooring in the library, all staff temporarily moved offices over to the annex. With everyone working in a large open area, we felt like we were working at Google!
The Rodriguez Annex has been an integral part of the library for the last 21 years.
Earlier this year, we noticed that the roof of the annex looked in need of repair. The building inspection identified several structural issues. The roof needed to be replaced; it was uncertain if the roof could withstand a windstorm, heavy rain or snowfall. We also learned that the building had two roofs, a surprise to everyone, even the fire department! The library board had two options: (1) to replace the annex roof, which would also require updating the building to be ADA compliant, or (2) to remove the building.
To provide spaces that better served the community, the board elected to demolish the building and make room for expanding the library. Earlier this year, I wrote an article announcing that we were planning to tear down the annex and add on to the current building.
When Kathie Olson, long-time JCLD historian and Library Association Board member, heard about the addition, she laughed, "In the back of our minds, when we bought the annex, we had thoughts of using the land to enlarge the library. I am glad to see that our forward-thinking is becoming a reality!"
The library staff has slowly been weeding and sorting through all the items stored in the annex, emptying shelves, and cleaning out storage rooms in preparation for our September demolition. The Twice Read Books will have one final Demolition Book Sale ($5 for a bagful) at the end of August before we shut its doors for a season.
We will continue to look for opportunities to have book sales throughout the year. Unfortunately, until we find a new spot for Twice Read Books, we cannot take book donations after Aug. 10; we have no place to store the books. We are putting our thinking caps on and hoping to figure out alternate locations for the Twice Read Books and space for weekly resuming films.
There are big changes ahead. We are excited about the future expansion of the library, being able to offer community meeting rooms, a new home for showing films, a genealogy center, and dedicated spaces for children and teens. You have a strong board and dedicated employees who are as ready as we can be for the inevitable controlled chaos that lies ahead. You can find regular updates in this column and on our website. In the meantime, drop by the library and see the facelift of the building's exterior.
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