Oregon City Library reaching out to large unincorporated service area

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Oregon City is planning several initiatives to reach out to its large number of library patrons who live outside city limits.

Library Director Greg Williams said that officials have identified lots of ways to make it easier to connect with patrons that wouldn’t require them to head to the McLoughlin district on the northwest corner of the library service area.

Oregon City’s library service area is much larger than the city itself. About 40% of the service area’s people and 90% of its 110 square miles are outside of city limits in unincorporated areas of Clackamas County like Redland and Beavercreek.

“We have a very large library service area,” Williams said to attendees of the Dec. 7 joint fundraiser between the OC Library Foundation and the Friends of the OC Library.

Williams soon hopes:

  • Librarians will automatically create library cards for every student in the Oregon City School District.
  • More materials will be mailed to homebound seniors who will have more convenient ways to returns their books and movies.
  • A designated outreach vehicle will transport library staff and materials to more events outside city limits.
  • Lockers will be installed in rural areas so patrons can pick up their holds without visiting the library.

“So you can pick up your holds when you’re visiting the grocery store, or when you’re out and about,” Williams said.

All of these initiatives will cost money, so attendees of the fundraiser were asked to contribute.

Lynda Orzen, president of the friends group, said that the bookstore has brought in 35% more revenue than last year. The group usually donates about $10,000 annually, with $100,000 going to the library’s building fund to complete the 2016 construction of the library.

OC Library Foundation board member Karen Martini joked about the difference between the two organizations, that the friends group works hard for its money, while the foundation simply asks for money.

“But we all come together around this institution that we really love,” Martini said.

Library friends/foundation groups have come together before to celebrate library achievements, but December’s event marked the first time they’ve held a joint fundraiser.

Rachel King, a former employee of the OC library who has since become an award-winning author, served as the guest speaker at the event. King read a short story at the event about how a young mother who lost custody of her daughter would have biweekly visitations at the library.

In King’s story, the librarian who helped make space available ended up getting hurt while off duty, but the young mother happened upon her previous acquaintance and gave the off-duty librarian a ride to the emergency room.

“As the story shows, sometimes patrons can help us too,” King said.

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