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History of the Jefferson County Library

In 1916 a group of citizens of Madras, OR, created the Jefferson County Library Association (JCLA). The library began in a little room on the lower floor of the Odd Fellows Hall. Books were donated from the local residents, and the rest were provided on loan from the Oregon State Library. 

In 1920 the association moved to its next location on the corner of 6th and 'D' St. To help with the financing of the JCLA the workers and volunteers held a variety of fundraising ( rummage sales, raffles, operettas, and Silver teas), and members of the community donated money and paid electric bills and postage.  

The Library grew as more families moved into the area during the War years. The annual budget of $50 did not go very far, so the Library depended heavily on its faithful volunteers. 

In the early 1950s, the library's building was very small. The Association began a building fund, and by June 1956, Jefferson County had a new Library at the same location. A new children's collection drew in more kids, and the Library was well used. 

In 1990, the Jefferson County Library moved to its present location on the corner of 7th and 'E' St. It continued to be a hub for children's programs and community events.

In 2000, the JCLA became the Jefferson County Library District (JCLD). A lot of work went into accomplishing this status. The Library purchased the Assembly of God church next door, which provided the Library with some much-needed storage space and meeting places. The Church was named after Sumner and Adele Rodriguez, both strong library supporters. 

Over the next 20 years, the Jefferson County Library District continued improving and growing its collection. The increase of computer usage and borrowing of DVDs and audiobooks steadily grew. JCLD continued to look for ways to encourage the education and enjoyment of reading for all the county residents. Early in 2020, the Juniper Branch of the Family Finders turned over the keys to the Library, allowing genealogy researchers more hands-on resources. A new website also provided a large variety of online resources that can be accessed with a click of a button.   

In 2021, the Library took its first steps to expand and renovate the JCLD with the demolition of the Rodriguez Annex. It was a bittersweet moment to see the cinderblocks come tumbling down. The community shared many memories of that building, but we are all excited to begin the next stage and build a large addition to our existing building. Another major focus of the year was the I AM A STORY project. The Library partnered with other local organizations and began a drive to collect the stories of local residents to preserve and educate the multiple cultures of the county. 

A new Bookmobile, a whisper room, and expansion into our outlying buildings were the main focus of 2022. The Library was about to purchase and outfit a Bookmobile to improve its outreach to the whole county through a generous grant. With the bookmobile came a redesign of the logo and a shift in workloads for all the staff.  The purchase of sound-booth to use in the collecting of I AM A STORY stories was also a grant purchase. It was also a year that saw a lot of moving around for staff as new offices and storage rooms were built in a number of the buildings that the Library owned. The Genealogy Center was sold and all the items moved into the library towards the end of the year. 

The Jefferson County Library District exists for the use, education, and enjoyment of all citizens and visitors of the Library District, providing access to diverse theories, ideas, and opinions in a variety of formats, supporting developing readers and lifelong learners, and offering information, courteous services, and quality programs in a safe and welcoming environment.

For further information concerning the history of the Jefferson County Library District, check out Pages of the Past: the History of the Jefferson County Library by Kathie Olson at the Library.


Compiled by GS 

May 28, 2020

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