Nancy Gregori took one last stroll among the shelves at the Redmond Library on Friday — a second home since she moved to the area 20 years ago.
“I had worked all my life and all of a sudden I’m in a new town and didn’t know very many people,” Gregori said. “And it was just really nice to be so gratefully accepted and it gave me a lot of pleasure just being here.”
It’s a similar story for many in Redmond who took time to enjoy the space before its closure over the weekend, as well as its upcoming demolition.
Librarian Erin Merriman-Zenor commented on just how many people have come in to pay their respects.
“Everybody wants to talk about how they’re going to miss the library,” she said. Merriman-Zenor herself moved to Redmond from Las Vegas five years ago, and gravitated toward the library as a safe haven for her family as they navigated a new city.
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The building started as a school house in 1929 and the original red bricks still hold up the structure.
“Jessie Hill School was the name of it and we actually had a customer come in today that went to Jessie Hill Elementary, and I was like, are you kidding?” Merriman-Zenor chuckled.
The library took over in 1996.
In its place, a new 40,000 square-foot library will appear by fall next year, complete with meeting rooms, children’s areas and more space for programs.
“When we started designing the building, we talked to over 6,000 people about what they wanted to see in the building,” Library Director Todd Dunkelberg said. “And I’m really excited to say that that’s what’s coming.”
Shelves of knowledge have been packed away neatly in boxes, leaving most of the space already empty.
Chris Ulibarri is on the crew with Allied Prestige Moving, which already helped pack up and move the Sisters Library for its renovations.
“We’re at the final stages right now with the boxes, they’re all packed up,” he said. “Everything else has already moved over there right now.”
‘There’ is the location at 2127 S. Highway 97, which will serve as a temporary library until the new building’s completion. Around a third of the Redmond Library book collection, or roughly 8,000 books, will be available to the public.
Dunkelberg said the temporary facility will also have internet access and computer stations available.
“We still have access to all the books throughout the county and books from Crook County and Jefferson County as well,” he said. “So we really encourage people to go online or get help from our staff and place a hold, and we will bring the books to the library for you.”
The new building may be sacrificing some nostalgia, but the updated space is meant to fit Redmond’s growing population.
“I started working there in 1999 and spent ten years of my life in that building,” Dunkelberg said. “So it has a lot of great memories for me as well. One of the things that we’re trying to do is really honor that building, so we are actually going and filming people talking about their stories of being in that building, whether it was as a school or as a library, and just trying to find ways to keep the memory alive and and honor the past.”
If you’d like to contribute special memories to the library’s project, you can visit deschuteslibrary.org and click the Future Libraries drop-down menu. Click on the Redmond button, then the ‘Give Us Feedback’ button to provide your testimony.
Merriman-Zenor said although she feels the public knows how much of a benefit the new space will be, it is a bittersweet process.
“It’s nice that I get to come back,” she said. “I’m super excited that it didn’t close before I got to to do another shift here and help people.”
Gregori said she hoped the public would appreciate the new library even more.
“I know we have to accept change and appreciate change, but it’s too bad that we’ll lose this,” she said.
The following is from the Deschutes Public Library
January 13, 2023 — After six years of planning and meeting with thousands of community members, the Redmond and Sisters Libraries are about to undergo construction (Redmond) and remodeling (Sisters). Both libraries close as of January 15, but temporary spaces will also open during construction and remodeling.
The Redmond Library will be closed as of January 15 to allow for construction of a new, 40,000-square-foot library, which will replace the existing building. A temporary Redmond Library will open on January 23, 2023, at 2127 S Highway 97 in Redmond. The library asks that customers hold their returns during the transition week (January 15–22); no late fees will be charged for materials. Holds will be available once the temporary space opens on January 23. The new Redmond Library is slated to open to the public in fall 2024. You can learn more about the new library and get updates at www.deschuteslibrary.org/futurelibraries/redmond/.
The Sisters Library will be closed starting January 15 to allow for remodeling. The updated library will re-open in fall 2023. A temporary Sisters Library opens on January 24, 2023, in a mobile unit on the current library property at 110 N Cedar Street in Sisters. As in Redmond, the library asks that customers hold their returns during the transition week (January 15–23). No late fees will be charged for materials, and holds will be available once the temporary space opens on January 24. You can learn more about the new library and get updates at www.deschuteslibrary.org/futurelibraries/sisters/.
“We’re so appreciative of all the work library staff did to find temporary locations and to make the transitions as smooth as possible,” said Library Director Todd Dunkelberg. “While everyone is excited to get into the new library in Redmond the remodeled library is Sisters, being able to offer temporary locations during construction and remodeling is a great way to continue supporting our communities during this time.”
Once complete, the new 40,000-square-foot Redmond Library will feature large and divisible meeting spaces for community use, collaborative and co-working spaces, DIY spaces for creative activities and programs, a dynamic children’s area, a dedicated space for teens and more.
Updates to the Sisters Library include bright and open spaces that welcome customers with amenities such as flexible meeting and tutoring rooms, an enhanced children’s discovery space, improved lighting, a cozy fireplace and reading area and a large community gathering space.
In November 2020, Deschutes County voters supported the Library’s bond measure to expand and improve libraries across the county. In addition to building a new library in Redmond and updating the Sisters Library, bond funds are being used to remodel and update existing libraries in Downtown Bend, La Pine, and Sunriver, as well as the construction of a new library at Stevens Ranch in east Bend to serve all Deschutes County residents.