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Hood River library reopens July 1

June 29, 2011

The locks come off the library on July 1.

The library, closed since July 1, 2010, in Hood River, Cascade Locks and Parkdale, will open at all three locations in early July.

A "library unlocking" and open house starts at 4 p.m. July 1, with music, refreshments and time to honor longtime Library Foundation member Margaret Euwer of Parkdale. State Librarian Jim Scheppke and former Hood River Library Director June Knudson will be on hand for the event, which starts with the ceremonial "unlocking" at 4:30 p.m. The open house lasts until 7 p.m.

In addition, patrons will have the chance to purchase fundraising bricks to support the library. Bricks are inscribed and line the walkways of Georgiana Smith Park, surrounding the library.

Board president Sara Duckwall Snyder will speak on July 1, along with Foundation president Michael Schock. Introducing them will be Paul Blackburn, one of the coordinators of the Save Our Library campaign that worked for passage of the successful Nov. 2, 2010, levy that created a separate library district.

July 5 will be the first day anyone can check out books and use computers; see sidebar for schedule details. All three branch openings on July 5-7 will include entertainment, family activities and light refreshments.

A year ago this week, library patrons were returning books and other materials, not knowing when they might check out books again.

The doors were closed on June 30, 2010, after failure of a May 2010 vote to form a library district separate from the county, which had operated the system.

Supporters rallied a new, less costly proposal for the November 2010 ballot, and it passed, setting the stage for the library's reopening in November 2011.

But a collective impatience took hold. Community, volunteers, donors, the Library Foundation and the newly elected library board have worked since early 2011 on what became known as "the early opening plan."

The foundation donated about $80,000 toward the $220,000 early opening budget.

Buzzy Nielsen was hired as the new library director, and started work June 1. Since then he has developed a budget and a plan for reopening, and is now in the midst of hiring eight part-time employees to serve all three branches starting July 5.

"I have been impressed with the degree people are willing to help get the library going," said Nielsen, who previously was assistant director of the North Bend Library District.

"We've had numerous offers of volunteer help, and so many people have stepped up to answer the many questions I've had.

"I know there was some division in the community over the library levy, but I have not experienced it at all. There is a real excitement in the community at having the library open again."

Nielsen said two of his priorities are providing summer reading programs immediately and building up collections. Because of budget cuts, virtually no new books and materials were added in the past two years, and very few for the past four, according to Nielsen.

"We want to make sure we provide the reading programs. Children are such an important part of the community, and in any community the library is one of the few organizations to do summer reading programs," Nielsen said.

The list of Summer Reading events includes magic shows, music, an ice cream social and more, including Dragon Theater Puppets' "Little Bugs Big World" on July 13.

For details, go to the library website.

According to Snyder, early opening would not be possible without the contributions of Hood River County residents and other donors including the Friends of the Hood River County Library, Hood River County Library Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation and the Oregon State Library's Ready to Read and Library Services and Technology Act grant programs.

Nielsen is currently using the Wichita Falls Foundation $20,000 grant to buy children's materials, and has approximately $5,000 available from the Ready to Read grant for the same use.

Patrons may not see a large influx of new materials on the shelves immediately, because the library is on reduced staff and it takes time to put on book jackets and labels as well as enter catalog data for each new book. Nielsen said one of the new hires will work primarily in cataloging.

Internally, staff will be using different software for managing materials circulation, but the public should see no change.

Nielsen said that the computer system is ready to go, despite the one-year layoff. One change will be no staffing at the reference desk; reference questions may be brought to the front desk.

Patrons will notice that the shelves throughout the library are full of books.

"When I first came into the building, that was one thing I noticed: how little empty shelf space there was, and I realized it's because all the books are here. Everything's back," Nielsen said.

And about ready for reading.

(If you have an overdue book, return it. Overdue charges are forgiven, according to Nielsen. But fines do start up again next month.)

Here's a rundown of the fines and other fees and other information about using the library again:

Existing library cards may still be used at all library branches.

Order a new card online at: hoodriverlibrary.org.

The library phone number and email are 541-386-2535, info@hoodriverlibrary.org.

Overdue fines:

Books, audiobooks, VHS tapes, etc., - 10 cents a day, $3 maximum

DVDs - 25 cents per day, $5 maximum

Patrons who owe over $15 will not be able to check out unless they pay down on their outstanding fines and fees.

Replacement cost for lost/irreparably damaged items - retail cost of the item plus a $5 processing fee.

Patrons may bring in a good copy of an item with an identical ISBN to have the retail cost waived. They will still be charged the processing fee. For items without an easily available retail cost, an estimated cost for the format will be used.

Damaged items - $10

Interlibrary loan - $3 plus any fees charged by lending library

Lost card - $1

Non-resident/temporary resident cards - $15 for three months

Photocopies and printouts - 15 cents per side black and white, 25 cents per side, color

Meeting room use -Free for non-commercial use; $20 per hour, 3-hour minimum for commercial and for-profit

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