The original plan was to form a human chain to pass the contents of the old Jefferson Public Library from one person to another over the roughly one-block distance from the old library to the new.
But, at the start of the move Saturday morning, there weren’t quite enough people for the human chain. Instead, the volunteers simply carried books by the armload over the distance, with a handful of people lugging books and fixtures around in handcarts.
Linda Baker, president of the Jefferson Oregon Friends of the Library, said just having people carry the books was always the "Plan B" if they couldn’t make the human chain work.
But making things work is what Baker and around 10 other core members of the Friends of the Library are good at. Over the last decade, they've raised $800,000 to build the new library, all from private donations and grants.
“I’ve been walking around the last three days saying ‘wow, it really happened,’ Baker said. “We have been at this 10 years.”
Baker said volunteers moved around 5,000 items Saturday, not the library’s entire collection, but a significant chunk. There were at least 50 volunteers helping at the start of the moving session and Baker said there may have been as many as 150 who pitched in with the move throughout the day.
Baker said the new library will be accessible under Americans with Disabilities Act standards, unlike the old library in the historic Joseph Conser House. It will also have more space for the collection and other library services.
“It’s going to allow visits from more people,” she said, adding that she was expecting the library’s average of 1,200 visitors a month to increase.
She said for Jefferson, the library is more than books: it’s a place where people can use a computer to search for a job, borrow a movie or participate in things like the summer reading program.
Chris Studer, of Jefferson, said he helped out with the move because his grandmother had been a librarian in Jefferson. He added that seeing what the friends of the library were able to accomplish was extraordinary.
“They’ve been at it a while. Pretty much everyone told them they couldn’t do it and they did.”
Sam Schwarz, a Jefferson High School senior, was part of a trio of the high school’s musicians who led the procession from the old library to the new.
He said before the move he didn’t really appreciate how significant it was to be part of the effort to move books into the new library for the first time, but watching the event caused him to change his tune.
“It’s kind of a historic event," he said. "When we come back we’re going to be able to say we were part of the move.”
The library officially opens Oct. 30, Baker said, if things go according to plan. She added donations are still needed for the library. Donations can be made to the Jefferson Oregon Friends of the Library at P.O. Box 656, Jefferson, OR, 97352 or www.jeffersonoregonfol.com.