Make the McKenzie Connection!

Library is coming back

O’Brien Library reconstruction ready to start

BLUE RIVER: There was more cause for celebration last Friday as applause rang out for people with shovels. The event truly “broke ground” when a crew of seven dug into the turf where the new O’Brien Memorial Library is to be built.

The new building will join other public structures in Blue River that plan to have grand openings next year. The others include the Upper McKenzie Fire District’s Blue River station and a medical clinic funded by McKenzie Valley Wellness.

The library rebuild will involve the recreation of one of the community’s oldest institutions dating back to a lending library begun in 1928. As Connie Richardson explained to the crowd that gathered last Friday, the initial operation was pretty simple. Books were placed in orange crates on the front porch of Frances and Orel O’Brien. The rules were simple. People could borrow whatever books they wanted - as long as they returned them in good shape.

There were no due dates, fines, or forms Not even hours. Best of all it worked.

It soon outgrew the porch and moved into the couple’s kitchen. That too wasn’t enough to contain a service the community came to rely on.

A move to a shed out back was replaced in 1975 when a separate 24 x 32-foot building became the new Blue River Library.

Charles Kural came to town in 1983 to borrow a book during a segment of his CBS show “On the Road.” After that donated books continued to arrive from all over the country - until the building and more than 40,000 volumes were lost in the Holiday Farm Fire.

Plans for the new building on the corner of Blue River Drive and Dexter Street include a cathedral ceiling with wood beams and windows along the peak. People can also look forward to comfortable seating areas, an electric fireplace, and views of the backyard and surrounding mountains. Desks, laptops, printing, and WiFi will also be available.

Other planned amenities will include a community meeting room featuring AV equipment, tables, and chairs, as well as a kitchen area. It will be available to rent for meetings, classes, groups, and social events, along with community gatherings.

Outside, the backyard has been designed to feature a covered patio, seating, tables, and a grassy area for reading, connecting with friends and neighbors, and hosting small venues such as music, art, weddings, family and friend gatherings - plus outdoor education events.

 

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