MONROE, Ore. — Two months ago, the Monroe Community Library opened its doors for a grand opening, and community members are still celebrating the new facility.
Librarians say the former library was crammed and dark. Thanks to help from the county, private donations and grants, a train depot has since been transformed into the new library, and residents say they couldn’t be more excited about the renovations.
“It’s just a beautiful library,” said Alpine resident Mary Jo Fletcher. “And it’s just filled with light. The other building was dark, in just a small little cavern.”
In 2005, librarian Lori Pelkey went to the Monroe City Council to ask to expand the former Community Library.
“I told them at that point in time that it would just be a band-aid fix,” said Pelkey, the Monroe Community Library Specialist. “That we really needed a new library.”
From that point forward, Pelkey says a vision of a new library grew. Community members came together to say what they wanted in a library. Pelkey says her personal heroes, members of the South Benton Library Project, started writing letters for grants and asking for personal donations to build a new library.
And now, the bright library is the home of the former train depot that the county was planning on demolishing. The project’s total cost was $2.4 million, and the building was donated to the City of Monroe, which now maintains it.
“It’s kind of like the little heart of town I think,” Fletcher said. “It’s beautiful. And our little town needed a boost like this.”
The library’s building continues to exist as a piece of the town’s history, where people can continue to come together to meet, and get information – from books or from the Internet.
“It really is like Monroe’s living room,” Pelkey said. “And I love that about it here.”
No matter the size of the community, residents say libraries everywhere are important.
“It’s a huge benefit to have a library,” Fletcher said. “Not only is there space for people to meet, but reading, to me, is just about everything. You can find out so many things not only from books but also on computers.”
It’s a place for everyone.
“The kids are here – that’s so important for them to have something to do,” Pelkey said. “We’re way out here in Monroe, and there’s not much for our kids to do.”
Monroe’s library is a branch of the Corvallis-Benton County Library, so members are able to check out items from any branch, return them to any branch, and even request items to be sent to a different branch.
“It’s like the best of both worlds,” Pelkey said. “That the city gets to have this beautiful building, this gem of a building here in town, and have the backing of our big library in Corvallis.”
The Monroe Community Library is open on Mondays from 1:30-4:30 pm, 10 am-4:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-8:00 pm on Wednesdays, and 10 am – 3 pm on Saturdays. The library is closed on Fridays and Sundays. Teen night is on Wednesday nights from 5-7 pm, when families can play Xbox 360 and Wii games together.