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Corvallis-area libraries opening up with 'browse and go' format
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Corvallis-area libraries opening up with 'browse and go' format

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The Corvallis-Benton County Public Library is opening up again, with the main branch in Corvallis also getting some new space to work with.

The library, which has been forced to use walk-up service and delivery modes during the pandemic, opened a “browse and go” service at the Alsea and Monroe branches on June 1. Philomath follows Monday, with Corvallis opening up on June 21.

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Biden administration is making $1 billion in federal grants available to help close the "digital divide" and expand the availability of high speed internet on tribal lands.

The buildings will be open the same hours as they were pre-pandemic, but library director Ashlee Chavez cautions that “we will ask that you browse for your items and then take them back home to enjoy, rather than doing so in the building."

Self-checkout will be used, Chavez said, with staff available to help with checkout issues.

Delivery service still will be available to everyone in the district and Chavez said that patrons “are free to use both browse and go and delivery in whatever combination you like.”

The delivery program has been a huge success for the library, which expects to hit 100,000 deliveries — that’s deliveries, not items — next month.

Face coverings are required in all branches for those 5 and up, with Chavez noting that because COVID guidance changes often “we will continually update our policy to match guidance from the Oregon Health Authority.”

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The Corvallis branch also will be opening up some new real estate this fall. The library is taking what used to be an open-air patio on the second floor facing Northwest Sixth Street and enclosing it.

The new space, which is adding 1,200 square feet, has multiple components, Chavez said:

• A large reading room full of natural light that faces the Benton County Courthouse.

• A modular/flexible classroom space.

• Four group sized study rooms for community use. Each room will seat four people and will have up-to-date technology making the spaces suitable for remote meetings and presentations.

• The old study rooms in the space are being converted into a larger board room style meeting room that also is available for use by the community.

The project costs $1.1 million, with nearly $500,000 coming from city capital improvement funds and the library’s reserve. Curtis Wright, a board member with the Library Foundation, said the foundation “is committed to covering that portion of the cost the city does not have available.”

Chavez said the fundraising gap is $260,000. Go to https://thebestlibraryfoundation.org/donating/ for information on how to contribute.

The decision to enclose the patio, which received little use during inclement weather, followed a space study in which library officials worked with consultants and designers from Woofter-Bolch Architects of Portland.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@lee.net or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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