History of North Tillamook Library

Patty Went is a former president of the Friends and the organization’s resident historian. Her history is drawn from a presentation she made during the Library’s 30th anniversary celebration in July 2017. 

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Helen Hollensted, one of the earlier inhabitants of Manzanita, tells the beginning of the story in notes that she kept. Mrs. Ben Lane donated books to the Manzanita community in 1930. She was looking forward to Manzanita establishing a public library. These books were housed in the very small real estate office of Ben and Johanna Lane. They formed the beginnings of what we know now as the Manzanita Branch of the Tillamook County Library. According to Helen’s notes, some 100 books circulated that summer. Mr. Lane eventually built racks in his garage. Mrs. Van Groos was librarian and conducted a children’s story hour three times a week. The next year they were circulating 250 books.

The Pine Grove Community Center housed the first library in Manaznita

By 1932 the little library was receiving books from the Salem and Portland libraries. The Neighborhood Club of Nehalem paid the costs for transporting the books at first until the Community Club (Pine Grove) took charge after they opened their new building in 1933. From then on, the library seems to have been located in the Pine Grove Community Center where the present kitchen is now. The Women’s Club and the City shared the financial responsibilities. By 1947 the Oregon State Library Board was encouraging library systems for entire counties. Pine Grove members voted to support plans for a new Tillamook County Library. The county was eventually able to fund a bookmobile. Helen Hollensted recalled the bookmobile’s first visit to Manzanita. “The first day the bookmobile arrived, the entire neighborhood went to see it. Light refreshments were served in the Community House.” The library in Pine Grove Community Center served the needs of the community as a branch of the Tillamook County Library for many years, but community use eventually outgrew its capacity to meet the demands of the little city.

Growing Pains Forced Consideration of Alternatives 

In an interview with Ann Knipe, she tells the story of the beginnings of the efforts to build the present building. She tells about being in the library in the Pine Gove Community Center, with her daughter in the early years and there was a group of children sitting on the floor enjoying the books. They both commented on how it seemed that a library should be larger and more permanent. Tom Bender recalls that the library was in the “east 1/3 of the present kitchen in Pine Grove”. Carol Povey remembers that the library had a “turbulent birth”. The project of building the library was exasperating and exciting, but creativity and super optimism won out!

As far back as 1976 the city council planned for the library’s expansion and graduation into a building of its own.

In 1978, $1000.00 was given to Esther Anderson, the librarian at the time in the Community Center, as seed money for a new library. These monies and other memorial donations for the library were held and invested in CD’s.  After the CDs matured, Jean Prentiss, Ralph Niles and the mayor, Irving Carr, turned it over to the city where it was put into another CD. Eventually this fund grew to be $5000.00. Howard Wilson, the city manager and Mayor Irving Carr had the idea of using city property near the fire hall to build a 960 square foot building. In the winter of 1984, the city Council met and was presented with a plan for the building by Ted Erickson. At that meeting Esther Anderson asked for a steering committee to be formed to decide on what we really needed for the library. In late 1984, a ten member citizen’s Steering Committee was formed at the behest of the City Council to explore avenues to build a new library. Ann Knipe recalls that the first meeting was held at the Community Center. Mayor Carr was there and seemed negative about the possibilities.

Norman Craig was asked to head the committee, and after researching, he reported at the February meeting that to be eligible for grants the city would have to build a structure of 2,000 sq. ft. which the City at that time felt was much too large. Prior to the Steering Committee being selected, Alan Miller, the head of the Tillamook County Library, brought an application for a grant which Howard Wilson wrote. However, the recommendation of the steering Committee was to not try for a grant because the city did not want a 2000 sq. ft. building. As the discussion went on, Norman Craig resigned as chairman of the committee and Jean Prentiss filled the vacancy.

For the next few months the Steering Committee researched how best to obtain a 1250 sq. ft. library. The City and Park Board were willing to have a library at the park, but legal ramifications prevented using that site. In July of 1985 the City divested itself of the Steering Committee because it was unable to provide a large enough piece of property for the required building and did not wish to bear the burden of any legal problems should they arise. At this time, as the steering committee evolved into a new organization, the North Tillamook Library Board, a decision was made to apply to become a 501 C3 nonprofit and aim for a library that would be a branch of the Tillamook County Library. On September 4, 1985 the organization became an official 501 C3 nonprofit organization. At this point the city made available to the fund raisers the $5000.00 that they had been holding.

By then, the Steering Committee consisted of eight members representing the communities of Manzanita, Nehalem, Neah-kah-nie and Wheeler. Their purpose was to build a library on two lots they had acquired by the fall of 1985. One was from Bob and Dorothy Braun which the Friends bought for the reasonable price of $12,000 made possible by the Braun’s generous donation of $6200.00. The deed reads that the lot was transferred at the price of $18,200. The other lot was donated by Myrtle and Lloyd Hoffman. The Steering Committee planned to erect a building that would house a reading room, meeting room and children’s room and space for displaying art. The size was debated hotly.

The plan was for a building of 1600 square feet. As early as October of that year, Architect Tom Bender was presenting sketches at public meetings. See Appendix 1. Oregon Library Association required 2000 square feet as the minimum acceptable size to be considered for their grants! The Steering Committee went back to the drawing board. “The participation and enthusiasm in the community was tremendous” wrote Jim Shields in his account of the founding. Several people had given memorial donations for the library.   The garden club had an opportunity to sell dahlias and they gave the proceeds to the library fund.

The Community Steps Up

Throughout 1986 the community activists were busy. They had established the North Tillamook Library Board as a non-profit which allowed them to solicit tax deductible donations. Property owners made contributions and many organized activities occurred. Mary Kay Eskridge was one of the major promoters and organizers. Others named in the news clippings were Jim Shields, who served as financial consultant, and his wife Sandy, Jean Prentiss, Ann Knipe, Eldridge Appleton, Helen Janowski, Bonnie Carr and her husband, Warren Zumwalt, Dave Eskridge, Betty Dey, Norman Craig, and Charles and Charlotte Hoskins, Walt and Gloria Stickel, Peter Walczak, Tom Bender and Bob Rieke. Doubtless there were many others.

The current North Tillamook Library was dedicated in 1987

There were pancake breakfasts with the help of local merchants, Greg Movosian and Joe (at Nina’s). The first pancake breakfast was a real hit and they eventually had several at the firehouse. They also held progressive dinners. Carol Povey organized a Silent Auction. A dessert was sponsored by the Manzanita Women’s Club. There was a pub crawl[i] , a wine tasting party, and a musical. They sold used books, T-shirts, greeting cards, Entertainment Books, book bags, etc. They joined the effort with a VFW sponsored dinner, a grade school children Read – a- Thon and High Tea. Numerous individuals donated hours of time and effort.

In the words of the draft of the application for the grant in March of 1986, Tom Bender wrote “Preliminary architectural plans and cost analysis for the project have been prepared. In spite of the continuing poor coastal economic situation, a fund drive has, in less than six months secured over 90% of needed local funds, totally through individual gifts and donations. This accomplishment demonstrated the extremely strong base of support for the library in the local community.”

Application for an Oregon State Library Board grant was made through the Tillamook County Library System in April, 1986. These grants were funded by the federal government’s Department of Education, and evaluated by the Oregon State Library Board. In June of that year, the North Tillamook Library Board was notified that of the three libraries funded, the Manzanita library headed the list. The application was approved for $98,265.00. .

The bidding process was next. Jim Shields writes that “We were hoping a local builder would be successful and we lucked out when John Cardwell came in with the lowest qualified bid. Construction started in January 1987.” As the effort to build got underway, some carpenters even gave a day’s work, etc. The volunteer work made the building come in under the budget. Everybody helped. Margaret Jones donated $5000.00 for the landscaping.

The 2000 square foot library building was completed by mid-July. After the official opening on a rainy July day, the library began to accept patrons with the building paid for and about $5000.00 in the bank, according to Jim Shields. Carol Povey remembers that” Governor Neil Goldschmidt officiated at the opening on a very rainy day, and some very wet balloons sailed into the sky”.

The Library is a Unique Public-Private Partnership

The North Tillamook Library, Manzanita Branch of the Tillamook County Library System was dedicated on July 18, 1987. The books, personnel, and library policy setting are the responsibilities of the Tillamook County system. The North Tillamook Library Board retains the custody and ownership of the building. The Library Friends now bear the financial responsibility for building maintenance. They also can furnish volunteers from time to time. The contract was negotiated and signed in 1987.

With the building built and in operation, the attention of the North Tillamook Library Board turned to guaranteeing the financial stability for the maintenance of the building. A campaign was started to raise money with a target of $50,000. That amount of money earning about 7% interest would cover the yearly expenses. Again Pauline Reed gave a nest egg and donations from all over the country came in from property owners and supporters. At that point the decision was made to concentrate on the book sale and the copier monies as fund sources. The investment accounts are still active, with the idea that this account will be kept for future expansion needs and capital improvements. The library presently is paying its operating expenses through the book sales, copier, donations, fund- raising dinners and magazine sales.

In 2006 the recently formed Hoffman Center made overtures to the Library Board to combine the two organizations into a single community cultural center or to use the Library property to support the Center’s activities. Many were concerned that agreeing to this could result in a de-emphasis of the mission of the Library. In addition, the loss of property and investments could limit its possible expansion to meet future needs. After several meetings and a good amount of newsprint coverage, the Library Board decided that what the Hoffman Center was proposing was not compatible with the mission of the Library.

In 2014 a bequest of $52,000 came in and renewed interest in planned giving. The bequest was from the estate of Linda Ann Easley, a vacation home owner and Multnomah County Librarian. The gift also sparked the planning and fund raising needed to renovate the Library. The renovation included leveling the northwest corner of the building, installing new carpet, upgrading to energy efficient lighting and heating, and repainting the interiors. The renovation also included the repurposing of the Hoffman Room through the addition of electrical outlets and USB ports to support the use of personal digital devices. With the base of $33,000 from the bequest, the Board successfully applied for an Oregon Cultural Trust grant in 2015. In addition, in 2016 the Board successfully applied for grants from The Ford Family Foundation and the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation. The Friends, with strong community support, raised $22,576. When all was said and done, the total available for the renovation exceeded $100,000. The renovation was completed February 26, 2016 on time and within budget. More than 100 people attended the March 12, 2016 reopening celebration.

There is concern that the income from the annual book sale will diminish as electronic devices are used, but thus far, the sale is continuing to be very popular. Members are aware that new revenue sources will need to be tapped in the future.

In the past few years, the county Library system has provided the library with free WIFI service. This has attracted a number of new people to the library and the parking lot adjacent. These donors become acquainted with the many services that the library has to offer when they come to use the WIFI and to attend the county Library provided programs. Many of these visitors have become Friends.

For the past 26 years the library has had 16 different Boards which managed the building. Some of the Board members have served for many years, and some for just a few months but it is probable that there have been over 120 people involved in Board service alone. The contract with the Tillamook Library system has been renegotiated, the latest being in 2014. Very few changes in operation have been made, but the efforts of the volunteers on book sales and magazine sales have made it possible to keep the library in good condition and add the necessary improvements as they are needed.

Some Boards have been very active, and some not so much, but the number of people involved has steadily grown. The present number of memberships is 330. Some of the significant projects in the last few years were the replacing of the roof and several windows in 2007, the shoring up of the foundation and the new landscaping in 2009, treating the outside lumber in 2011, and the more recent complete renovation of the interior including the electoral and lighting upgrades. Over 100 volunteers worked at the 2017 Book Sale which brought in almost $8400.00 as compared with the $1500 target that Jim Shields envisioned in 1997. “The story behind the library building is unique and a great example of the power of the community. “Membership in the Friends organization is open to all – residents, part-time residents and visitors”, as Jim Chandler writes in his communications assessment. Sara Charlton reports that the Manzanita Branch circulates the highest number of items in the Tillamook County System.   The sense of community is still evident, as Friends ask their friends to become Friends and the organization grows and grows.

Sources used: Various library brochures, newsletters, and blogs

  • Pine Grove Anniversary 75th brochure
  • Newspaper articles from the historical files
  • Interview with Ann Knipe, 2007
  • Essay from Jim Shields, 1997
  • Notes from Tom Bender and Carol Povey
  • Anniversary scrapbook prepared for 20th anniversary, 2007
  • Undated notes from Peter Walczak
  • Communications Plan – Jim Chandler 2011

[i] N.B. Carol Povey described this as a progressive dinner at the thirty year celebration.   (7/08/17)