May 22, 2012
Georgie and Jack Thurber moved to the Cedar Mill area in 1971 and within a few years, were deeply involved in the creation of the Cedar Mill Community Library. They served on the board, edited many of the early newsletters, helped to organize the MESS and many other early library activities. This interview with them was recorded in December 2011 and includes many interesting stories and insights about the founding of the library. This interview is part of a larger project funded by the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Cultural Coalition of Washington County to capture the memories of our three decades of service by digitizing and providing online access to historic photographs, articles, documents and oral histories about the library's founding.
0:03: Mark: As part of a grant to
document the founding of the Cedar Mill Library over 35 years ago,
this is another in our series of recordings. In this
recording, we hear from Georgie and Jack Thurber, two individuals
who were instrumental in getting the Cedar Mill Library up and
running. Through their work on the Board, the early library
newsletters, the “M.E.S.S.”, and many other activities, we gain
many insights on how the Library got started.
In listening to the stories of the Library’s founders, it is evident that the health of the Library is intricately linked to the efforts of its volunteers. With that in mind, we would like to invite Library users to get involved in the Cedar Mill Library Association to help shape the library of the future. More info can be found at the web site “library.cedarmill.org”.
0:42 : Mark: So can you tell us your
name, and a little bit about your family, maybe how long you’ve
lived in Cedar Mill, and what initially brought you to the
0:50 : Georgie: My name is Georgie Thurber. What brought us to Cedar Mill was (that) Jack had accepted a job at ESCO Corporation as advertising manager. So we were looking for a house, and we’d heard that the Beaverton School District was very good. We had two young children, a four-year-old and a six-year-old, so we wanted to put them in a good school. So we looked around the Cedar Mill area, found a house on a quiet cul-de-sac within walking distance of Cedar Mill School, and settled in Cedar Mill.
Mark: About what year was that?
Georgie: 1971, October ’71.
Mark: And so mainly the schools were what
1:29: Jack: That was. I knew the couple that we bought the house from, that we finally decided on. And we liked that area, partly (because it was) on a cul-de-sac, and our kids always had a lot of fun riding their bikes on a private street. I don’t know if you pay a premium for it, but I got the house at a pretty good price. He’s a guy I worked with down at ESCO, and he told us all about our neighbors. And everything worked out just fine; neighborhood with kids.
1:55 Mark: Ok, great. And she
introduced herself, maybe …
Jack: Oh, I’m Jack Thurber.
Mark: Ok. So can you tell me a little bit more about what life was like back in the early seventies, here in the neighborhood?
Jack: Well, all the … they required that they have lanterns on the back of all the carriages that were drawn by horses (Georgie chuckles). And we had to dig our own well (chuckles). No, the seventies weren’t much different than the 2000s. And in Cedar Mill, because it had pretty much developed to where it was going to go – there were a few fill-in lots around, and that sort of thing, but big lots, and area, and we used to be able to see the Coast Range. All the trees grew up. Bigger trees, and a bigger mix of people, I think. We were on a street that had families with a lot of young kids, well, some of those couples are now the age that we are, and some have moved away. It was a great mix, a great demographic mix. At the time I think that we were fortunate that Cedar Mill had a demographic mix that was aimed toward the welfare and the future of children. And I think that a lot of the people that we got involved with early, anyway we’ll be talking about that, were people that were very much community oriented, but family oriented, and if they had selfish reasons for wanting a library, more power to it. Those are the kind of people that really formed the backbone of the early adopters.
Mark: Um hmm.
3:19 Georgie: It was a quieter area, of course, at that time, ‘cause you didn’t have Cedar Hills Boulevard all the way through, and fewer housing developments, and things like that.
Jack: Yeah, didn’t have six lanes, a turn lane, a lot of traffic lights, to help us with our driving.
3:35: Mark: Yeah. So from your knowledge, how did the idea of forming a library in Cedar Mill come about?
Georgie: Well, we are neighbors with Allen and Muriel Van Veen. Our property abuts in back onto their acreage where they have a vegetable garden. So we became friends, and we’d get together in the evenings, and so forth, and the 7-11 store that was next to the Van Veens was put on the market, for sale. And we were talking one night about, oh, what’s going to happen to this. And someone, I believe Jack, said, “Well we certainly don’t want a muffler shop there.” And Muriel said, “What we really need is a library.” And we thought “yes”, we need a library. And from there …
Jack: Those were just about about Muriel’s exact words. And we just, the four of us, we bought into that in a hurry.
Georgie: Yeah, we belong to a CPO.
4:28: Jack: Yeah, at that time, the State of Oregon had a law about land use planning. And, whatever you think about that, one of the results of that was that they either mandated or allowed for Community Planning Organizations, all over the state. And it gave them a voice, this new law, and also gave, ostensibly, neighborhoods and areas a chance to do some, to give some input as far as planning of their community. And, out of curiosity, I joined that organization, but I was looking around for people that might be interested in a library in this area, because Cedar Mill, as such, was not a cohesive community like it is now. (It’s) had several influences, the library being one, where we feel like we’re more of a community. But from this intersection down here, it was five miles driving to Multnomah County Library in Portland, and it was five miles driving to the Beaverton Library; it was a vast wasteland. Our kids were voracious readers, and most of the little kids around here were. And a lot of people thought in terms of what it would do for children, as I said.
5:40: Georgie: So you met people like … some people in the community had been thinking about a library, you know, sort of thought we needed a library.
Georgie: Judy Ackerman was one, and I think Ostermans …
Jack: She was a librarian, at one time, a school librarian, I think.
Georgie: And Ostermans. Did Kurt
belong to the CPO?
Georgie: And so did Gary … Peterson.
6:01: Jack: Gary and … the Petersons belonged to that. But I was cherry picking. I, very frankly, and I told ‘em about it later, when I found out there was so many meetings, and the people involved. I just kept going to meetings and inquiring. They formed a committee, a CPO committee to talk about it. Well committees talk, you get a lot of talking done, and it’s nice, and you drink a lot of coffee. But it was not that committee that we were working with for a library. I mean we were focused. And I took those people, and I said “come with us,” and so they were some of the, really the innovators that came up with all the ideas that would make it possible for us to do a library.
6:40: Jack: The first Board of Directors was selected by Allen and (me) as being representative of some of the leadership and voices in the community. There was Otis Bales. Al and myself. Kurt Osterman, a friend of ours, and he had public information, “PR” experience, as a Forest Service PR guy. There was the … and then we wanted to do a little networking, and so we invited Don Shick, who was principal of Cedar Mill School, to be on the Board. And, let’s see, who else it was, I’ll think of it later. We’ll give them full credit, it’s a matter of record, and I don’t have their names right in front of me at the moment. But we put together a group that would have continuing interest, it wasn’t just “flavor of the month” for anybody.
7:31: Jack: We were never small in our thinking. I don’t know if we presumed that there would be a meeting room upstairs, but we were thinking of a lot of things. Which I might throw in right now – one of the things we might do as a library is have a senior center in conjunction with it. Or lots of senior activities. It’s the only thing that never came about from our early dreams. But there are things that seniors can participate in. You know, in the classes, and that sort of thing, so we include them, and maybe it’s better that they’re included as a mix, rather than isolate them.
8:03: Georgie: Well, and before the Board got really organized, and we had the ice cream social. A guy by the name of Fred Gregor joined the group, planning, and helped spearhead the ice cream social.
Mark: And what year was that?
Jack: ’74. Maybe. Excuse me, wait a minute. No, because we … We incorporated early, and we had a Board of Incorporators, which was the (before the?) Board of Directors, and started the paperwork activity in late ’74 through ’75, getting nonprofit status, and tax exempt status, and the tax number, and a whole lot of things. At the same time, we were enlisting people who were interested, in looking for a place for the library, and that’s a different story in itself. But that will come up a little later. But the ice cream social was one of several community contact activities that we had at that time. Inviting them, “bring a book and have ice cream, and hear about plans for a new library, and share your thoughts.”
9:02: Jack: It was kind of a committee of the whole, everybody is part of the planning committee tonight, give us all your ideas, and your books. And we’re going to collect books until we open our doors somewhere. So this was all happening up at that day school, the day care school up on 107th and Cornell, right behind the mechanics shop there, that’s where that 7-11 had been. It was not a good location for 7-11, and they were selling their property, and we were looking for a way to buy it, and have a library there. Well it wouldn’t have been any better (as a) location for a library, we would’ve been small, eventually we’d have been looking for (another) place.
9:37: Jack: And having Otis Bales on the Board was really a lucky choice. He was a good man, and we knew he’d be interested in the library. He eventually saw that we were up against a brick wall; we all saw that, as far as buying and having a major capital campaign in this community would’ve been a bigger bite than we could chew at that time. And he offered the possibility of space here, “Well, would you be interested in the shopping center?” (He) said, “I might have a space, and I could give you a good deal on rent,” which he did. He is a highly honored man, and I don’t mind telling you that he was very generous. We got that space over there where the little lab is, across the parking lot from the present day (library). We got that space for half of the commercial rent at the time. And he said that it’s not just … it’s permanent as long as you have the library here. And later, as you know, we came up here, and we expanded, etc., but that first space was extremely important to us … that was our beachhead.
10:38: Mark: What were the other businesses in the shopping center at the time?
Jack: Well the other business across the breezeway there was Bales Thriftway, where Walgreens is. That was all Bales Thriftway grocery there. And there was a barber; Al’s been there since … they built the building around Al’s barber shop, right?
Georgie & Jack: Dr. Wong, the dentist, was on the corner.
Jack: Down west of where that lab
is. Oh, and the lady who does sewing and repairs, and the pet
people, probably were there at the time. There was an
insurance agency, maybe not the same one. I believe, on the
corner where the auto parts … what was there?
Georgie: What was there?
Jack: I don’t know. They didn’t tell me I was going to have to remember all that.
11:24: Mark: That’s all right. I’m
just trying to paint a picture in my mind.
Georgie: Yeah, and there was a little café there, where the whatever-it-is is now.
Jack: There is one now; there always has been.
Georgie: It’s sort of stayed the same. Beauty shop is still there.
Jack: Bales needed to expand, which they did by developing that land across, that they owned, or maybe bought some of it at that time. Then this space where Walgreens is became a couple different things after that.
11:55: Mark: So what year did the Library
start down there?
Jack: January 13, 1976, is the day we opened our doors down there.
Mark: Ok. Then at what point did we move up to the building we’re in now?
Jack: I don’t remember that date. I’ve been there since Day 1, but I didn’t write down all the dates.
Jack: It was an important date, definitely. Up here, it allowed us to become more …
Georgie: It should be … in the by-laws.
Mark: Yeah, I’m sure we can find it.
Jack: Yeah. And that newsletter is a good place to get a capsule of all that history.
12:24: Mark: Right. What was up here then, when the Library first opened?
Jack: Oh, yeah that’s right.
Georgie: Yeah, the Cornet store.
Jack: Yeah, it was the Rogers variety store.
Jack: And not the whole space. There were some other things here.
Georgie: Yeah, there were some other things here.
Jack: The art studio, or whatever it is, was in this line of buildings, but it may have been up closer to the street, I don’t know. But anyway, there were … mainly Rogers was in here, yeah.
12:53: Mark: Ok. So you said,
you talked a little bit about where you wanted it to go. And
you imagined a lot of things that it would become. Did you
imagine that it would look like this, back then, with a branch
Georgie: It’s wonderful.
Jack: Not necessarily. I wouldn’t have predicted … none of us would have predicted a branch library. ‘Cause we were small. We called ourselves a community library on purpose, so there’d be no confusion whether or not this was owned by the government. This was a do-it-yourself project. And one of our early presidents made the mistake of saying “Well, we’ve come from being a Mom and Pop library to …” And I called him up short on that, not publicly, but in private, and I said we’ve never been a Mom and Pop. You look at the people who started this library; none of these people are Mom and Pop type people. And I have great respect for that, ‘cause my Dad was a small-time grocer, supported his family with a Mom and Pop store. Not the AM/PM kind of store, the neighborhood kind of store, like in the old days. And I said we’ve always had big dreams; don’t ever say that again. (Chuckle.) He didn’t. But the dreams were big of having a library; we didn’t know what satellite things might happen. It’s wonderful, it’s like Christmas every time something good happens like “Branch Library”. We’re in the branch library business now. We’re in the business of helping someone like Aloha go through some steps that might help them. Here are the kind of people that we sought out, here are the kinds of hurdles and things we went through in the early days. I haven’t yet volunteered to help them, I don’t know if they’re even asking, but there’s a target for us right out there.
14:29: Mark: Yep. So how did the idea of forming a nonprofit come about, and why did you go that route?
Jack: Well, for practical matter, we felt that being a nonprofit and a (501(c)(3)) would bring in more donations, I guess. We were going to be dependent on donations at first. And very soon we found out that there’s money out there to be asked for. We were writing grants. And I wrote a grant to the Tech Foundation for $1000 that first time. And being a nonprofit helped there. I think … I don’t know what we were thinking, except … I shouldn’t say this out loud … We’d … I’d gone to the County and talked to one of the Commissioners and talked to him about what interest does Washington County have in opening a branch library in our area. I guess, I didn’t know at the time, but there were no county libraries. I was surprised at that, and that the County had no interest in libraries, and in a very friendly way, parted company. And I kind of wanted to fly in the face of government, and say, well the government’s not going to garner any tax money from our operations, we’re not going to be accused ever of being a business, we are going to be a public service library. And we’ll set our own terms, thank you.
15:50: Mark: So knowing that the Washington County Cooperative Library Services did start about the same time …
Jack: A little after, our initial year and a half of formation. But yeah …
Mark: It’s interesting that you would say that, based on knowing that …
Jack and Georgie: What was her name?
Jack: I’ve got her name in here
somewhere. A woman was looking at the possibility of a
cooperative kind of library system. She didn’t know for sure
what it was going to be, she didn’t know what it looked like, but
she looked at this. She was a resident of this area, and it
looked like a perfect area to be thinking about. Putting
libraries in the area together as kind of a cooperative
group. There were city libraries, and there were a couple of
… one was a club library, over in the West Hills somewhere.
I’m sorry Ladies, I forgot your name. That was a good one; I
don’t know where they are today. I think that helped a lot of
the small libraries. It helped us because it put us in touch
with other libraries. I think we’d already made kind of a
connection with Hillsboro Library, but now all of us had
connections with each other. Not just at the librarian stage
– they all kind of knew each other because they wore the same cloth
– but we could get together and work on common goals.
17:02: Georgie: Yeah, and didn’t we get some shelving from Hillsboro Library?
Jack: Well, yeah, as an independent matter, we went to Hillsboro … no, we didn’t, we heard … well, Hillsboro was moving into a new building, and I guess we sort of went hat-in-hand, and it wasn’t me this time that said, “Well, have you got anything that you’re not going to use in your new building that we could use?” Well, yeah, the shelving that we used for years was from there, as well as some that was built be some of our own members, and that sort of thing. Harold Kidby was they guy who painted all that. It’s nice wood, solid wood stuff, but it had been painted once or twice, so he very carefully painted it, with a little help from Sue Peterson on color schemes, and that sort of thing. It was put in place lovingly, and now it’s sort of … I don’t think we have any of it around anymore. We may have shared that with another library along the line, because it wasn’t as efficient as what we use now. We make really good use of our space with our tall stacks.
18:09: Mark: So there was never any talk
of being a part of a Beaverton or Hillsboro Library?
Jack: No. Not interested in Beaverton, not interested in Hillsboro. We’ve got our own identity as Cedar Mill. Kind of proud of it. We’re out here in unincorporated Washington County, but we are Cedar Mill.
Jack: It’s a matter of pride, too.
You got me on that one. Finally dug it out, didn’t you?
18:32: Mark: So you talked a little bit about some of these, but what were the main obstacles that you ran into, and how did you guys resolve them, in the beginning?
Jack: What do you think?
Georgie: When the 7-11 building, when that didn’t work out, we were thinking “what?”, but then Otis stepped in and resolved that. We’ve always had people volunteering -- help set up, help do this – you know. It’s always been a community sort of “yes we want a library, let’s do this.”
19:03: Jack: Yes, it’s a great community
volunteer effort. Anytime … maybe there was something that
went on once a year; these people would show up. Plant sale
or something. The M.E.S.S. … which was, means (chuckle) … it
was our rummage sale.
Georgie: “Miscellaneous Etcetera Super Sale”
Jack: Yeah. I named that, I can take the blame for a few things. I don’t mind.
Georgie: We’d have that … what did we have that for, 10 years?
Jack: Thought it was a terrible name, and they loved it.
Georgie: We had that for quite a
while. 10 years I think it was?
Jack: Yeah. And always count on volunteers; some just came out the day of the sale to help. To unload, load, do all that, then you didn’t see them again. They were here as library patrons. There were specialty volunteers along the way that helped a lot.
Georgie: We’d start in June, collecting
things. Probably the hardest thing was finding a place to
store everything. But we’d start in June, collecting,
collecting from garage sales, asking people for stuff.
Jack: Where are some of the interesting places that you found to store it?
Georgie: (Chuckles.) Well, over at one of the school … Beaverton school buildings. And places like that. And then we’d have the sale outside, all around, down there, a two day outdoor sale.
Jack: Yeah, between the two rows of buildings down in there.
20:17: Georgie: Jack would move some of
the tarps. And people would come, after we’d been having it
for five or six years, “This is really nice. This is
fun. You should do this again next year.”
Jack: We’re in our nineteenth year, thanks for coming. Well, we moved it, later. And we just stopped having it.
Georgie: Well, a lot of us workers, we went back to work full time. It just wasn’t …
Jack: Our kids could come home from school, and find their own banana, and start studying maybe, and the Moms went back to work. And it just changed the flavor of it, but we still depended on the money. By that time we were getting some grants. I don’t know the first time that we got County money, but as soon as we were operating in some form, and they say that we were a permanent entity, this Cooperative helped get money apportioned from the levy.
21:20: Jack: That helped a lot, and of course that’s the mainstay of our budget now. But we still do Second Edition, and that’s an outgrowth of the M.E.S.S., by the way. Did a market study, and we said we can’t keep doing this, it’s getting bigger and bigger. We got to be the third largest rummage sale in the Portland area at one time. Over $20,000.
Georgie: The last year.
Jack: The last year, it was big. Georgie was chairman of it one of those times. Worked on it every year, but she graduated up to the seventh grade or whatever it is, after seven years or something, became chairman. It was going to be really tough, so we did a market study. Several of the volunteers went down and interviewed, and looked over some of the thrift shops, and other means of raising money by a thrift shop, a resale shop, or whatever. And we put out a spreadsheet of ten different, will nine, different factors, that we needed to consider. Volunteer loyalty, enthusiasm, … And then, well no, that was the last one, that was the “X” factor, and it was all those things – loyalty, enthusiasm, numbers of people, and all that. And we used … I was a marketing guy, and we set up a grid, and we figured out what their monthly income per square foot of sales space occupied was, and how much they grossed, and dollars per foot … it’s a retail measurement. I wasn’t retail, I was in industrial advertising, but we used that. We looked at the ones that were most obvious to us to copy, or to look to, and I’ve forgotten who they were, and I could tell you but it doesn’t matter; there were some usual names that you hear that are very successful thrift shops. We didn’t use any of the giants, because we weren’t going to be a giant, and we were looking for ones about the same size or a little larger.
23:14: Jack: And we decided it was a “go.” So we went to the Board of Directors, asked for a loan. Said we can do a thrift shop. And where was the first, oh, it was down at this end. And this was not even in this building, it was the end portion that had been the art studio, or something down here. Started that up, and it was pretty successful. The market study we did did a five year projection of what sales could be expected, and I breathed a sigh of relief when they beat that all five years. But there was no M.E.S.S., and people were asking for it, even though they would come to the shop, well “when are you going to have your big rummage sale?” Well, they decided that they would have a “mini-M.E.S.S.” And pretty soon the mini-M.E.S.S. became quite large, and filled all the parking space out here, and back along the side. But it reached a point in the shop, especially when the building was built and we moved down there, it reached a point in the shop where we were totally replacing, and more, about doubling the income that the M.E.S.S. had brought in. So they decided “thrift shop only.” It’s a lot easier on people’s backs, and time and space.
24:19: Mark: So what was it like for you, running it that one year? What were your …
Georgie: Oh, the M.E.S.S.?
Georgie: Oh, it was great fun, ‘cause I’d always done the housewares section, always priced and boxed and sorted. Sue Jones and I would go out collecting stuff, and things like that. It’s just sort of, “Well, if you don’t want it, we’ll take it.” There was a core group of us. Fran Harkins, Sue Peterson, Sue Jones … Jan Johnson, that always … and Jeanette Gill, that worked the different departments. And so sometimes we’d team up with someone else to be Chairman / Co-Chairman. Yeah. It was fun.
25:09: Mark: So you talked a little bit about gathering materials for the Library. What were the hours when it first started, and how was it staffed?
Georgie: It would’ve been staffed by volunteers. I wasn’t really involved with that, ‘cause I think I was working full time by then. Jack and I went, when the library was down there, we would go with the family and do the janitor work. You know, empty the wastebaskets, vacuum, with the kids.
Jack: Yeah, the first year we opened, I was President of the Board, but I was also the …
Jack: The assistant janitor, behind Georgie and our two kids. I was janitor number 4, and we went down and were janitors for a year, in that small space.
Georgie: Yeah, open, what, 54 hours a week. We tried to make … Jack said … you set a time. Ten till eight, or ten till five, and you keep it that way, you don’t say 5:30, 9:30, blah blah blah. You keep it the same, so that people remember that it’s always the same. Yeah, it was a volunteer staff.
26:12: Jack: At the time, we didn’t know … I think Fred Gregor and some of us informally talked about, “Well, how many hours should we be open? We’ve never talked about…” Fred Gregor the first Library Director, I guess you could say. He was not a professional librarian. The one we had on the Board didn’t want to be the Director of the Library. He and another woman kind of set up the interior, did operations … with the help of others, of course, that had experience. And we were talking one day, and, “Well, how many hours should we be open?” And sat down and wrote it down, well, “This sounds reasonable.” 10:00 to 8:00 on Monday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday, 10:00 to 5:00, closed Sunday. And that added up to 54 hours, well that’s great. At the time ,we were open more hours than any library in the County.
26:56: Mark: Oh, really?
Jack: Yup. I think they looked at us … it took a while for them to discover us, our hours, but I think that libraries are open more hours now. I mean it’s a … we’re a service entity, our only product is a satisfied patron.
Jack: And information. And a few other ancillary things. A lot of ancillary things. But information, and entertainment. And … you tell me, you’re the professional! That’s what we were looking for. Did we find more? Well, we did. Yeah.
Georgie: And materials, well, from the first Ice Cream Social, you know, people were invited, “Bring books, donate your books you don’t want.” So there’s never been a shortage of books. As we know from the Book Sale.
27:36: Mark: Yeah.
Georgie: And then when they got money,
then they could start buying, you know, the non-fiction and other
Jack: Yeah. They were stored at that old 7-11 store. The Southland Corporation let us use that until we could get established, just as a place, a storage. It was never a library. What was the early library is probably something… I don’t know if it’s on your sheet or not, but Georgia can tell you more about that. But that was, what was it, the Green what, the “Green Giant”, or what?
Georgie: Multnomah County loaned us their book mobile…
Jack: An older one.
Georgie: for a while. It was an old one.
Jack: It was about a 1939 Chevy, or something.
Georgie: We called it the “Jolly Green Giant.” And it was parked up … I’ve got a picture of it, it was parked up at the 7-11 for about three or four months. (Unintelligible.) So that was the start, and people would volunteer to staff that.
28:27: Jack: Yeah, but it was on-site, it didn’t go around anywhere.
Mark: Didn’t go anywhere.
Georgie: No, that was it.
Jack: No. That was … our first library, was the Jolly Green Giant. And they got some cute pictures of kids walking up the steps to go into the book mobile. Ah, but the books … and it couldn’t hold all the books we had, we had tons and tons of books, literally, in that building. When it came time to move, and organize the books, why we didn’t have space for anything else. But we made space. But it was, it’s been a flow ever since, of donated books. People just have the idea, well, I’m going to buy a book and read it and pass it around my friends and family, and let’s not lose it ‘cause I’m going to donate it to the library. That’s my imagination, but I think that some of that thinking goes on in this community.
29:08: Mark: Great.
Georgie: And then the equipment, you know, the shelves, and so forth, they came from other libraries, or there were people like Harold Kidby who would build things.
Jack: Yeah, the first card file was built by one of our members. It may still be around somewhere, although we don’t have any card files as such. What was his name? He lives over in Orchard Hills. That’s why I gotta have that membership list in front of me. I’ll think of it later, and give him credit on this tape, …
Jack: … because he did a marvelous job. He is a craftsman.
29:40: Mark: So we talked a little about
joining WCCLS. Do you remember how long after the library was
open that that occurred?
Jack: Well let’s see. We joined at the time it was formed. I mean we were part of the discussion with … aah, here name’s at the tip of my tongue … about the … what she saw as potential for the … the community didn’t have its name yet, in fact it had two things, it two organizations at one time, now it’s just the one. One was … by the same people, essentially. One was the professional librarians, it was sort of like a Board of Directors, though they didn’t have a lot of power. But they had the power certainly to discuss things, and to, eventually, make some decisions about distribution of the tax money that was coming in. But the Washington County … Cooperative, the Co-Op, we were part of it from the start. Because we were incorporated already, we could join this (cooperative) with a goal … and they accepted us, along with all the others who were already a going concern, very nice of them. Helped us, and in think in ways helped them too, ‘cause some of us were … Washington County had a libraries advisory committee at one time; I don’t think they have that anymore. And (chuckles) I was on that for a while. I still don’t know what they did, or do, they didn’t meet very often, it was just so that they, you know, wouldn’t get left out, I guess. And we’ve long since flown past any consideration of the County advising anybody on libraries. But all those people that formed that I think are dead now. What I think the commissioners wanted … to have some activity, and some say maybe in the library activities, in the area.
31:35: Georgie: It was Donna Selley(?).
Jack: Donna Selley was her name.
Georgie: Over at Washington County Cooperative.
Jack: Was she doing it for … I think she was developing a model used in other communities on a professional basis, and I don’t thing we got charged for anything. I think that we could charge her for all the knowledge that she gained, but she was very good about … seeing down the road, and seeing what was possible. Both for her, as well as for libraries. That’s why she was in it.
32:00: Mark: So talk about how you look
on the Library now. But (were) there any big surprises along
Jack: Oh, yeah, there was, well, this … go back to stumbling blocks. I was surprised that the library, maybe back, oh, twenty years ago, wanted to jump into the VCR and the video thing right away, and they’re already discussing the big thing, “Well, do we want Beta or do we want …” You know, nothing had been resolved there. And I was on the Board, and it came to the Board then, to consider it. And I said “Wait a minute.” I was thinking “Wait a minute,” but I said something like that. I said “We’re in the information business. Not in the entertainment business. And we’re not in the business to compete with that video store down there”, and across from Safeway now, there used to be one. We’re not competing our friends, and people that can help us, and those are the businesses around us. I said a how-to video, or self-improvement, you know, historic things, that’s fine, but if you’re going to have “Jaws” or something, you know, the Hollywood entertainment, I don’t think that’s our place. I think that people can get entertainment in other ways. And now especially, of course, there’s so many means of it, speaking in 2011 – the internet, TV … radio has improved a lot … not locally necessarily. Well, yeah, and radio … all the means of media have improved. We didn’t have to have all the media just because it was out there. My argument at the time was two-fold. Let’s not compete with our friends in business, and let’s not try to be what we are not. We’re not here to entertain people, we’re here to provide them with things that they can’t get elsewhere, which is a sea of books. They can buy one or two a month, maybe; some people can’t buy them at all. And children, especially, are voracious readers. And let’s make sure we have a gigantic children’s department. Which I’m glad to say is there today.
34:04: Mark: Yeah.
Georgie: I think you were thinking also that … the vision of the Library should be to encourage people to read, not to be watching at home.
Georgie: It got voted. I mean …
Jack: Well, yeah.
Georgie: All libraries now have videos. And DVDs that you can check out.
34:15: Jack: I lost. The vote was eight to one in favor, I as the dissenting vote. I lost that vote. But I think that that whole approach has been modified some, they never did get out, we never did get out of having movies, but I don’t know if the DVDs … I haven’t even looked at the DVD section; I haven’t had time. But are we still in the business of competing with theaters and …
Jack: … the other DVD providers?
Mark: Well, there aren’t too many other DVD providers left (chuckle).
Jack: No, not in that form, but there are a lot ways to get those movies, and online is the easiest. TV contract is the easiest.
Georgie: Yeah, and the Library also, they went for … what do you call, non-fiction videos … “educational” …
Jack: Yeah, there was always a good collection of that.
35:02: Mark: Well has your vision of libraries changed in the years since then? Since …
Jack: Well, yeah.
Mark: … it was supposed to be more
information and not entertainment, but obviously entertainment is
something that’s a big part of what we do.
Jack: Well, it’s all together.
Georgie: It’s to bring people to then
library, and then, “Oh, well they’ve got, they have books here.”
(chuckles) You know.
Jack: Yeah, a marketing guy should’ve known that that would be a magnet, draw somebody in. Even an illiterate can come in to a library, because we have tapes. Ok, I guess it’s pretty harmless as long as, you know, we’re pretty careful about what kinds of tapes we have. I don’t think they’ve ever had any X-rated, for instance. At the time I was voting “no,” on that particular issue, and I’ve changed my mind, I was also on the board of Oregon Literacy. Adult literacy was our theme. It’s really a tragedy that there are so many adults who can’t read. It’s true today as it was then. All the efforts that are taken by this library, Oregon Literacy, all the other libraries. And childhood literacy is a real challenge, because many of the children in schools come from families whose parents have never read to them. And I didn’t want anything to get in the way of literacy in general. Especially at that time, my focus was not only this library, but adult literacy.
36:26: Mark: So we talked a little bit about Aloha. What type of advice would you, or have you, been giving to the folks out there about … mobilizing to establish a library?
Jack: Advice. Mine is to grab everybody you see on the street, or at home, church, school, grab them by the collar and say, “Here’s what we’re going to do. Do you want to be part of it?” And if you see that their eyes light up, don’t let go of ‘em. (Chuckle) That’s the answer.
Georgie: Yeah, I think that it’s getting the word out …
Jack: That’s what we did.
Georgie: … that we’ll be forming a
library. Getting people who are interested …
Jack: Oh yeah.
Georgie: Getting the word out.
Jack: Went to PTA meetings, had flyers, gave flyers to Boy Scout troops. We had social events. Put out a lot of news releases. Kurt Osterman did, then when he wasn’t here, I guess I did, ‘cause I was the guy who had some experience there. Got pictures in the paper, and there’s some of it in the old scrapbook, and all. Just talk about libraries. Don’t bore ‘em, just let your excitement show. If you’re not excited, don’t talk to ‘em. (Chuckles) But we were all excited.
37:29: Mark: Ok. Well, that’s the extent of our questions. Do you have any other notes or things that you want to add to the telling of this, anything that we’ve left out?
(Unidentified): Tell us about your children.
Jack: Oh, yeah.
Georgie: Well, our daughter Andrea was probably about eight when we … well I’d have to look at dates, and so forth. But she and Leslie Peterson would help, like at the M.E.S.S. One year they did all the artificial flowers, which was to bundle them up and …
Jack: That was their department.
Georgie: … price; that was their department. And they would help when we were cleaning down there. And I’ll have to have here write up what she remembers from … but she went on to become a children’s librarian, and has her MLS. And Brad just sort of came along and helped whenever we needed things.
Jack: Yeah, Brad, kinda quiet, and smart, and never complained about anything. If we asked him to come up to the Library, that was fine with him. Because his sister, who learned how to read at five, taught him to start to read at four, and he couldn’t get enough books either. So he liked this place.
38:37: Mark: It must’ve been very formative for them to be around the Library, to bring it in.
Jack: I guess they kind of took it for granted.
Jack: Don’t all families get involved in something like this? And we moved along very smoothly. Andrea even helped shelve books after a while, I think it was about nine or ten.
Georgie: Yeah. So Brad went on to become a geologist. And they’ve always been good readers.
39:01: Jack: Oh, can I … I’ve got two or
three things I’d like to throw in. We didn’t do this on our
own, and I think that’s apparent from some of the … Donna Selley
and her work on WCCLS, and all of those things. We didn’t try
to do it alone. We sought mentors and advisors and smart
people, and one of those smart people was … I think that his name
was James, I think it was Burkhardt, and he was a Multnomah County
library directory downtown. He was one of the people that I
sought out. Telling him this is what we think we want to do,
it’s early on, and he’s, “Ah, that’s wonderful, and I’ll be glad to
give you any advice I can.” He said, “Do you know that this
Library started as a private association? The Portland
Library Association. A lot of people don’t know that.”
And he dug in his files, and he pulled out the original charter to
show me. I should’ve asked for a copy. The Portland
Library Association, which was later pulled into a forward-thinking
County environment. The County took that over ‘cause they
needed branch … oh, they had branches …
40:05: Jack: … I don’t know how it happened, either they sold it for a dollar or gave it to the County, because it had the wider organization, and it also had a tax base to help them. He said, “That’s a wonderful thing; I wish I had been back there when they were going through that. Looks like you’re going through it for your own community.” And we talked about a number of, a lot of things. One of the things that he brought up, he said, well, we’re going to be doing it all on volunteers … later, we expect to hire a professional librarian to guide us, and make sure we’re doing it right, and we have one on the Board now, but she won’t always be here, and blah blah blah. You know, we’ll have a staff, we’ll have you, we’ll have you. And he said that “I’m really jealous of you.” He said, “If I had volunteers doing anything in this library, I’d have a strike on my hands.” Because all the County library employees are organized.
40:57: Jack: They’re all in a
union. He said, “That’s held us back a lot, but one thing
that helps is we never even talk about the possibility of
volunteers.” He said, “There’s a Friends of the Library, and
they have to do all of their activities off-site.” They’re
talking about a book sale; they didn’t have the off-site book sale,
but they go to different places to have a book sale. I think
it’s relaxed a little bit now, with their annual book sale, I don’t
know where it is.
Georgie: Yeah, I don’t know.
41:22: Jack: Anyway, he was a great deal of help to me, in those early days, and to all of us. I’d bring things back and we’d talk about it, as a “gang”, and later as a Board and all.
41:33: Georgie: Jack and I did the
library news for a good number of years.
Georgie: Put it together, and that’s where a lot of the history is.
Jack: I think there’s a full set somewhere.
Georgie: Well, they bound ...
Jack: We had a problem one time-- it was way early, and none of you were around--it was kind of an “us and them” attitude, I don’t know where it started, between the staff, which was about four or five, and volunteers. And maybe they thought that volunteers shouldn’t be blah, blah, and they felt that they shouldn’t be beholden to some faceless corporation. Well, they’re always invited to come to the Board meetings, and all that sort of thing; it’s still owned by the Association. But some of our material got filed rather deep at that time. I think it all came to light, but there was a full set of this, and we always made sure that … And we didn’t start it, Fred Gregor did, with a couple of, we called it a “news digest” for purpose of history, a couple of information sheets, but the ice cream social, and they were passed around.
42:33: Jack: And this is Volume 2, meaning it was the second year of our existence. January ’76 was the first year we were in a library. I did the masthead and helped Jan Johnson with layout, and stories, and that sort of thing for a few issues. Then her family situation was getting a little tight, so Georgie and I took over the newsletter for … several years.
Georgie: It was 10.
42:48: Mark: Was it just distributed here in the Library?
Georgie: Oh no, it went out to all the members.
Jack: It was a members-only thing; if you were a member of the Association you got it. And we felt that that was our focus for a while. We want them, first of all, to know what’s happening here, because they’re investing. Then the other thing is, that they were considered a body, had maybe 400 members—member units, families, and things—early on. And we felt that, well, we’re not getting 400 or 600 volunteers. They are our volunteer pool, and we wanted to continue to make that connection. We wanted to give names that they might recognize. There’s always been a policy (that) any name that’s in here would be in bold face, in the early days of the library news. And there were a few, I don’t say “gimmicks,” but “methods,” used to draw people in. The way the stories were written. And just trying to keep up, not necessarily all the news of what came into the collection this week, but what some of the activities are in the library, the children’s, what’s happening at Children’s Story Hour, the Summer Reading program, the plant sale, and …
44:02: Georgie: Sue Jones and the
Jack: Yeah, Sue Jones organized a lot of the youth in the Library with … And she was a puppet teacher, taught them how to make puppets, and put on little puppet plays, and that was part of the children’s program.
Georgie: Christmas; the “Creepy
Jack: Yeah, “Creepy Castle” at Christmas. And they were a magnet for children, in addition to the Story Hour. And building a good collection as fast as we could for children.
44:30: (Unidentified): Did you produce the library news in your home, or did you have a facility here at the Library?
Jack: At home. At home, yeah. And for some things, I had ... had …
Georgie: You’d have it printed …
Jack: … outside.
Georgie: Yeah. I’d type up the story, he’d do all the pictures. He’d write the stories; I’d contribute somewhat. And they we’d fold it up, label it, and mail it out.
Jack: Yeah. That was the artwork. None of the text, I mean that’s all original, but the artwork, little guys doing something to illustrate Summer Reading Program or something. I had a lot of fun with that. So my …
Georgie: Well the M.E.S.S. ones are collectors, around here somewhere.
Jack: Oh, the M.E.S.S. promotion
flyers. Yeah, I did the M.E.S.S. ones, and Plant Sale.
I did most of that kind of stuff over the years. Not with my
own pen, just with my Mad Magazine type of mind. I had the
ideas, I just didn’t have the skills, but I could get the point
across. Sometimes so crazy people didn’t understand it.
I apologize to all of you.
45: 30: Mark: (Chuckles.) Ok. Well, thank you very much for coming in and talking.
Georgie: You’re welcome.
Jack: Well thank you. It’s been a good experience.