About the Library
In 1916 a group of Madras citizens met and
formed the Jefferson County Library Association
with Lewis H. Irving as president.
Staffed by volunteers, the library began
in a small room on the lower floor of the
Odd Fellows Hall. Soon after, the library
was housed in the newly built city hall (later
to become the courthouse and currently the
Museum on the corner of 6th and “D” Streets).Many books were donated to the library from
local citizens and many more were borrowed
from the Oregon State Library.
From 1917 until 1930 the county appropriated
$250 a year for the library, with the city
of Madras also giving a small sum.
The paid librarian was Fanny J Kane who received
$60 for her services in 1919. Other
workers were paid small amounts.
The association later purchased a small frame
building and moved onto a lot across the
street owned by Howard Turner. Mr. Turner allowed the library building to
use the lot free of charge. This lot is on the other corner of 6th and “D” Streets where the dance
studio is now. During the depression the county funds were
discontinued and volunteers carried the full
responsibility of keeping the library open. The annual Membership Tea was the only source
of income for the library. When expenses could not be met Lewis H. Irving
would come to the rescue and pay for the
electricity and postage. The association
had to find creative methods of fund raising. They hosted dances, bazaars, rummage sales,
poster contests, quilt raffles, and even
The war years found the library becoming
a popular drop-in center for women and children
who were here for the construction of the
Army Air Base. It was kept open two
afternoons a week, dust storm or sleet, rain
or snow, firewood or no firewood. A
budget of $50 a year was now set aside by
the county for library expenses, with another
small donation from the city. The State
Traveling Library was the greatest resource
for new books at this time. Mr. Turner
sold the lot on which the library sat, so
the little building was moved to “D”
Street next to the present police station.
By the early 1950's the building was far
too small for the library's needs and the
Association made plans for a building project.
The Madras Kiwanis Club pledged its assistance
toward the erection of a new library building.
Construction was begun in August of 1955.
The new building was dedicated a year later
and represented an outlay of $10,000 with
most of the labor coming from volunteers
and all the cost covered by donations.
In 1960 an addition was built on the back
of this building, bringing the size to 2300
sq. feet and providing space for a small
This building served the needs of the community
throughout the next two decades with paid
librarians Barbara Silvers, Barbara Duke,
Catherine Morgan and Wilma Gibson continuing
to build a collection of books and materials
to serve the needs of a growing Madras community.
Children's Story Hours and a Summer Reading
Program were provided. Volunteers were
always a mainstay of the library, helping
with library duties such as shelving, janitorial
work and building maintenance. The
county continued to fund the operation with
some help from the city while donations were
always needed for extras.
During the 1980's many changes affected the
library --- the Oregon State Library was
no longer available as a resource for small
libraries; increase in the local population
mandated greater circulation of a growing
variety of materials, and the electronic
age was about to change the entire format
of libraries. The cozy little building
on “D” street was quickly becoming
||In the late 1980's Carl and Ellen Peterson
donated a lot on 7th Street to the Association
to be used as the site for a new library
building. Once again the community
rallied for a building project. Grants
and donations were obtained and volunteer
labor donated just as in the early 1950's.
Many of the same fund-raising ideas were
used as during the Depression era: quilt
raffles, a dance, and rummage sales.
A new 6000-square-foot building was erected
on the site and was completely paid for without
having to seek funds from the voters of Jefferson
County. The new building opened in
the Fall of 1990 after local volunteers had
moved every book hand-over-hand from the
old building to the new, just as books had
been moved decades before.
In 1995 grants and donations provided the
funding for computers, software and scanners
while local volunteers bar-coded over 30,000
library items. This brought the Jefferson
County Library into the computer age of technology
and services. The new building quickly
became a busy hub for the community, providing
children's programs, autograph parties, a
biennial quilt show, and a meeting room for
organizations to use.
The county was still providing the funding
for annual library operations, which were
now approaching an annual cost of $100,000.
The city of Madras also donated a small amount.
The rising cost of books, videos, computer
equipment and audio material as well as salaries
for qualified employees were quickly outgrowing
the funds provided. Other libraries
in the state were forming taxing districts
to provide stable funding. The Jefferson
County Library Association was one of the
few libraries left in the state that had
not gone to taxing for funds and consequently
was falling behind in meeting state standards
for libraries. In 1999 the Association
made the decision, with the approval of the
county commissioners, to form its own district
following the boundaries of the Educational
Petitions were circulated to put the new
district on the May 16, 2000 ballot
"Save Our Library" political
committee campaigned diligently to
the success of this issue. Two
tax measures were on the same ballot
for County Jail operating funds and
for the formation of a Parks and Recreation
District. With a 58% voter turnout,
it was a close election and the library
was the only measure to pass.
The new funding of 43 cents per $1000 of
property tax provides the library district
with an annual operating budget and allows
library services to meet state library standards.
The Jefferson County Library Association
deeded the building and its contents, debt-free,
to the new library district, and a board of 5 members was elected to serve this district.
Today the Jefferson County Library District
continues its efforts to represent the best
of all eras. Much of the furniture
from the old buildings has been refurbished
and is still being used, while photos
on the walls reflect the history of the community. The library also represents the best of the
present with a strong collection of books
on tape and CDs, a current fiction collection, six
public Internet stations, a lively, busy children’s program, and outreach to the district’s outlying communities in
addition to local visits to senior living
centers. Within the next year the library’s catalog
will be available on the web for browsing,
book requesting, and on-line personal account
A sense of small-town friendliness and personal
contact is combined with a constant look
toward the future to provide service that
will fill the needs of all ages.
For more information about
the Jefferson County
please checkout the book
Pages of the Past
by Kathie Olson's.