Friday and Saturday of last week volunteers at the Cathlamet Blanche Bradley Public Library helped pack up and categorize books to move the entire library to its temporary home on the bottom floor of the River Street Building.
Everything from the books, to the computers, to the bookcases went. The Cathlamet Blanche Bradley Public Library is getting a makeover inside and out.
Moving day was Friday for a library that has roots back as far as the 1930’s. When the planned renovations to the building on Main Street are completed this will be a 21st century building inside and out. The building’s exterior will be updated including repair and beautification of the building itself, as well as a new parking lot, signs and landscaping. The interior of the building will be renovated with everything from a new heat and air system to the latest technology. Private donations may even provide new computers for the library.
According to Librarian Connie Christopher, the library services approximately 3000 residents within Cathlamet, Puget Island, Elochoman Valley and Skamokawa.
The community support for the library during this move was evident in the volunteers, who Christopher said, were awesome and showed teamwork.
The library is an important part of this community.
“Twenty-six volunteers donate 150 hours per month,” she said. “Volunteers also attended town and county budget meetings; as a result we (the library) did not have to reduce hours and our funding from the county was reinstated in 2011.”
Local residents, Public Works Department employees, library volunteers, county jail inmates, Cathlamet’s mayor and council members all worked together to make this move successful.
Mayor George Wehrfritz even provided lunch for the volunteers. Wehrfritz said he strongly believes that the renovations to the library can help bring life back into a community that has seen rough economic times. He believes that this could be the beginning of the community’s revitalization and eventually result in more local residents embracing local resources instead of driving to neighboring cities for culture and entertainment. Wehrfritz sees the communities’ passion and dedication for their library as a positive sign of things to come for the areas’ economic future. A new library may bring more citizens into town and that would help local businesses also.
The funding for the renovations has been made possible by The Janet Cimino Estate, The Blanche Bradley Public Library Fund, private donors and also donations from the county and the town of Cathlamet locally. However, a majority of the financing will come from a loan from the USDA World Development program, private donors and a grant that was received on Friday from a Washington State Community Revitalization Micro Grant. Cathlamet was “1 of 8 successful applicants for this grant and will receive 10 percent of the total monies that the state awarded this year” according to Wehrfritz.
A community center operated by the Wahkiakum Community Network will be located downstairs in the renovated library and will offer a wide range of services to residents.
The library offers a number of programs including; summer reading programs, Dr. Seuss’s birthday party, a Christmas party, family literacy nights, community activities and job fairs. The library also offers computers, printers, Internet access and free Wi-Fi.
The library is open Tuesday through Saturday afternoons. Hours and contact information for The Blanche Bradley Public Library can be located at http://www.librarytechnology.org/lwc-displaylibrary.pl?RC=25389.
Correspondent by Christy Douglas Green is a Kalama native now living with her family near Annapolis, MD. She put herself through Georgetown University and is staying with a friend in Ilwaco to help plan the friend's early October wedding.