MYRTLE CREEK — On the Myrtle Creek Library’s reopening day Monday, Tanner Reed, 5, was enthusiastically transforming a Minions T-shirt into a book bag that he could use to take home a pile of books about dinosaurs, unicorns and monsters.
Tanner didn’t like to think about what would happen if the library closed again.
“I’d feel really sad,” he said.
Tanner was one of a dozen kids who turned up for the first day, not just of the library’s summer reading program, but also of its reopening after a three-month closure. Like the other smaller library branches of the former Douglas County Library System, Myrtle Creek’s doors were shut April 1. It’s the fifth to reopen, and it’s operating with an all-volunteer staff.
The kids were thrilled to have books to check out and fun activities like creating their own book bags out of T-shirts and hearing volunteer Karen Rivera read an unusual take on the Three Little Pigs story. In her version, three piggies from Myrtle Creek went on to have exciting careers while living in different kinds of homes — an adobe house in a Colorado pueblo, a rainbow cottage in California, and a portable teepee for a nomadic lifestyle. The kids had other suggestions, such as an igloo or a castle.
It was a good day for Rivera, who was devastated when she first heard the Myrtle Creek Library would be closing in the spring. On its last day, she wiped away tears as she spoke about its loss with The News-Review.
So how was she feeling Monday?
Derrick Teig attended Monday’s summer reading program with his children Liam, 2, and Ezmea, 4, as well as his wife Jessica Teig.
Ezmea loves doing crafts and getting books. She tries to teach her brother to read, her father said. Liam favors pop-up books.
“I was pretty blown away when I heard they were going to close it down,” Derrick Teig said.
“I remember being a kid, getting my library card and how much fun it was, feeling important,” he said.
Marley Myrhe, 8, was enthusiastic about the anime graphic novel his grandmother was checking out for him — “Maximum Ride” by James Patterson.
His grandmother Laura Hollifield said Marley enjoys reading the novels and then drawing the characters. She was also checking out “The Lego Adventure Book” for him.
She said she enjoyed libraries herself as a kid and then bringing her children, and now her grandchildren to them.
“I don’t want that to get lost,” she said. “The library is so important.”
Hollifield said she’s “so thankful for the volunteers” that have made it possible for the library to reopen.
Behind the scenes, it wasn’t an easy job. Even the book checkouts had to be done by hand.
There’s still a concern about being able to fund raise enough through the year to keep making liability insurance payments.
Rivera said at one point, before the city agreed to allow the library to continue in the building, there was even talk of opening in the old laundromat building at the corner of Oak and Second.
Bob Heilman, a member of the Save Our Libraries PAC that unsuccessfully attempted to get a library district tax passed in November, said at one point the Douglas Education Service District talked about moving in. However, he said they’d have taken a substantial portion of the building and weren’t offering to pay rent.
Heilman said he anticipates it will take between $15,000 and $20,000 a year to keep the library open, including $5,000 for insurance, as well as the costs of internet, telephone and other services.
Nevertheless, on Monday, morale was high.
“This is great,” said summer reading program coordinator Serena Theiss. “We had people here ready to roll when we got here.”
Having the kids back after three months closed is “huge,” she said.
“It’s great to see kids back here in the library. We’ve got people checking out books. We’ve got teenagers on the computer. We’ve got all the ages in here right now,” she said.
The kids were also scheduled to begin creating miniature homes similar to those the three pigs in Rivera’s story built — paper tee-pees, popsicle-stick rainbow houses and adobe homes made of clay.
Volunteers Sheila Johnson and Rindy Hart were working on some rainbow house models Monday morning.
Johnson said the library reopening is a relief. Hart said she came to the library as a child and now she’s helping keep it open for today’s children.
“That’s just full-circle awesomeness right there,” she said.