Library celebration puts exclamation point on success of recent renovation

Let there be no doubt about it; residents of north Tillamook County love their library.

That was clearly evident Saturday when upwards of 200 people filed through the North Tillamook Library in Manzanita in the space of two hours to check out the the newly renovated interior of the 30-year-old facility. Although the library reopened to the public on Feb. 27, following a six-week closure,  the North Tillamook Library Friends waited until March 12 to host a community-wide party, complete with live music provided by members of the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers, to celebrate the accomplishment.

From left: Sara Charlton, executive director of the Tillamook County Library; Sen. Betsy Johnson; Kay Stepp, president of the North County Library Friends; and Tillamook County Commissioner Mark Labhart were on hand to celebrate the grand reopening of the North Tillamook Library in Manzanita on Saturday, March 12.


“We deeply appreciate your interest and support as shown by your presence today,” Kay Stepp, president of the North Tillamook Library Board, told those gathered in her opening remarks. “This is a big project for a small, rural community, but our Friends came through with contributions of nearly $23,000 from donations, raffle ticket sales, an auction of old furniture, a gift in memory to our dear friend Ann Nicholson, and a fund raising dinner. In addition to giving money, many volunteers gave their time to raise money as well. This tremendous effort is demonstration of the importance of this library to our community.”

The renovation project totaled more than $100,000.  Money was donated and granted in 2015 and 2016.  “Fortunately, we did not tap into our investment account reserves to pay for this renovation,” said Stepp, who thanked other major donors in addition to the Friends.

The renovation, months in the planning stage, includes new flooring, a fresh interior paint job, new and refurbished lighting; upgraded electrical for technology use; new heating and window coverings in the Hoffman Room just to name a few of the improvements.

Board member Lee Hiltenbrand, who volunteered his time to serve as project manager, was aided by Becky Berg, who lent her time and talent to guide the interior design, and a six-member project team.

“Lee gave six months of his life to organize, schedule and oversee the many contractors and service providers who were necessary on a project of this scope,” Stepp said.  “Our list of contractors and service providers is long… and as Lee told me, ‘their commitment to providing quality work in a timely way’ made it possible that this project was ‘done on time.'”

On hand for the festivities were Senator Betsy Johnson, State Representative Deborah Boone, Tillamook County commissioners Mark Labhart and Bill Baertlein, along with city officials representing Manzanita, Nehalem and Wheeler.

Attendees toast the official reopening of the North Tillamook Library in Manzanita at Saturday’s event.


Commenting on the “extraordinary public private partnership that exists between Tillamook County Library and North Tillamook Library,” Stepp noted that “without one or the other there would be no library in north county.”

The North Tillamook Library, Stepp explained, is an all-volunteer not-for-profit organization responsible for the maintenance (and repurposing) of the building and grounds while the Tillamook County Library brings media, staff and programming to the building.

And with that Commissioner Labhart led those in attendance with a three-cheers, hip-hip hooray for a job well done.

As for the Old Time Fiddlers they resumed playing but without one of its beloved fellow fiddlers, the late Linda Anne Easley, a Multnomah County librarian who had a second home in Manzanita. In 2014, the North Tillamook Library received a surprise bequest from her estate helping kickoff the fundraising effort for the library renovation.

Members of the Old Time Fiddlers added their festive touch to the library celebration.


Said Easley, in later years, after playing for an elderly man in a care facility, “While I was playing it went through my mind that this is an action that has been going on forever. Individuals playing unaccompanied for others and the music touching hearts in ever-increasing concentric circles around it. All of a sudden I realized that I’m part of it. It’s my turn.”

“And she took that turn,” Stepp noted, “not just with music but with a generous gift to North Tillamook Library so that we can touch minds in ever increasing circles through the knowledge available in this facility.”

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