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Introducing the brand new automated library

Site director Nettie-Lee Calog and library patron and volunteer Zach Fukuda, 15, look over the automated receipt he got after checking out his books. (Cindy Yingst)
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, March 14, 2019

Warrenton Community Library started a new chapter this month.

New computers. New library cards. New shelving. And, finally, automation.

There’s a website now where patrons can look up books and -- just like Fred Meyer and Walmart – have their selections ready for pick up without having to walk up and down the aisles.

And check out “Answerland,” a reference service on the website that’s linked to librarians across the state. They’re available to provide research guidance 24/7.

“It’s just come such a long way from Hammond,” said Nettie-Lee Calog, the library’s site director.

The former library was housed in a small building in Hammond until structural problems required the city to find a new location. In the summer of 2017, the library moved downtown to a larger more accessible site.

“It’s still kind of a work in progress,” Calog said. “Have you ever remodeled your house and lived in it? That pretty much sums it up. I haven’t been able to find anything for four months. Stray books all over the place – unsure how to catalog, not sure of records. It’s a whole new ballgame.”

But the changes, if not smooth, have been essential to bring the library into the 21st century.

“It’s easier now and I like the website; I went on it the other day to look up a couple books,” said Zach Fukuda, 15, who was checking out books on Wednesday.

Not only is Zach a voracious reader, he volunteers at the library during the summer. He has used Answerland for a school project.

It’s for young people like Zach that the city and its residents decided against letting the site slip into oblivion or close.

In November 2017, Warrenton voters approved a property tax levy of 33 centers per $1,000 of assessed value. It brings in nearly $190,000 per year, which means the library could hire more staff and stay open regular hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

The levy helps the city pay rent and make improvements to the building. And it allowed the hiring of two additional part-time staff members, one of them working specifically on children’s programs.

A year ago, city commissioners voted to partner with the city of Seaside in an application for a Library Services and Technology Act grant, which it won. Federal funds were used to automate the book check-out/check-in process, formerly done by hand with a rubber stamp. The system emails a reminder when books are nearly due.

And there’s an entire database of digital books and magazines that can be downloaded to Kindles and other readers for free.

All the city’s books and other offerings are going into a digital catalog, which is shared with Seaside.

Eventually every other library in the county could jump aboard and books shared throughout the system.

Library staff also jumped on the chance to get a free professional shelving system from George Fox University, which gave them away when the Hillsboro campus closed.

City Commissioner Rick Newton is donating cedar for a new sign that will be designed and made by a local resident. He’s also working on some sculptures that would go in front of the library.

“It’s just coming into the current century,” Calog said. “Everything is more user-friendly. There are more opportunities to do all kinds of things. You can look at magazines online, do your resume. It’s a whole new world. But we’re still cute and eccentric and that’s OK.”

Stickers, such as a cactus for western and a heart for romance, indicate each book's genre. (Cindy Yingst)

Nettie-Lee Calog stands behind heavy steel doors in the video vault, which holds hundreds of movies and documentaries. The library building once housed a bank. (Cindy Yingst)

Paula Duncan (left), who is in the Easter Seals' Senior Community Services Employment Program, gets a lesson from library volunteer Lyn Hadley. (Cindy Yingst)

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