RAINIER - One year after the creation of a local library was proposed at a Rainier Historical Society meeting, the Rainier Volunteer Library will celebrate its grand opening.
The May 8 ceremony concludes a whirlwind year that brought the entirely volunteer-run library from dream to reality.
“This was how big of an outcry that the community wanted a library,” volunteer coordinator K. Kleeman said.
The library found a home in Rainier’s historic schoolhouse, sharing the facility with a new thrift store and local food bank. Much of the building required renovation, including new windows, paint and refinished floors.
“It was their vision, and it came out of the community,” program director Julie Dallavo said, calling the thrift store and food bank “keystones” to the building.
With its only funding coming from grants, the library survived through volunteer donations and time commitments, as well as a partnership with the Timberland Regional Library system.
Timberland provided Rainier with a computer kiosk that allows residents to place holds on books and videos from any of the 27 Timberland branches. The reserved material is delivered to the Rainier library, where community members can pick it up.
Timberland has other kiosks in high-traffic areas throughout its service area, but this is the only one that is incorporated into a volunteer library.
“It’s a very cost-effective service for us to provide,” library communications specialist Leanne Ingle said. “They have every Timberland service except an actual collection of books”
Members of the Rainier community donated close to 300 boxes of books, giving the library more than 8,000 items available for checkout in the building. Volunteers devoted thousands of hours in September and October to cleaning, labeling and shelving the donated materials, Kleeman said.
The library opened its doors to the community on Nov. 12, and has been open Wednesday through Saturday. Seven computers have been donated, and a middle school student has volunteered his services in loading the necessary software on each machine.
Students and members of the community use the computers to do research, search for jobs and check e-mail, Kleeman said.
Ingle praised the willingness of the Rainier community to step forward and volunteer time and materials to build a resource that everyone can share.
“What the Rainier library offers that we could not afford to do, given our facilities and priorities, is a place to come, do homework, access computers and talk with a library staff person,” Ingle said. “This is a bootstraps effort, and the facility is wonderful.”
As the grand opening nears, volunteers are working to finish final updates to the facility. One of the historical society board members is installing a fiber-optic line to provide wireless Internet for the entire building, Dallavo said.
Kleeman estimates that about 20 people between the ages of 13 and 80 volunteer to help run the library. But she hopes that more will pitch in and help the library grow to offer greater resources, classes and services to the community.
“I don’t think the whole community in general knows that we’re open,” Kleeman said. “Yes, we’re open. Yes, we need you. We need people so we can grow.”