A Short History of the Friends of the Scio Public Library

The Friends began meeting in the 1970s, when the library consisted of donated books displayed on a couple of tabletops. A volunteer librarian came once a week to list by hand what had been checked out. Fortunately, a member of the Scio City Council saw that more could be done.

When the fire trucks were moved out of Scio City Hall, she managed, with support from the Friends, to shepherd the library's move into the vacant space. The city enclosed the fire-truck bays, built bookcases along the walls, and made other improvements to the room.

From the beginning, the Friends have applied a useful mix of skills. A retired school librarian began the cataloging and guided the selection of reference materials. A member who liked to shop at garage sales found a rug to fit the room. Members painted the walls and stained the bookcases, and people began to donate more books. On moving day, books seemed to pour out of the old city jail, where they had been stored.

In the mid-1990s the Friends began providing monthly funds for book purchases, operating the library on Saturdays, and sending out a regular newsletter. We initiated a summer reading program for children and evening educational programs for adults, and we began holding used-book sales and other fundraisers to pay for books, databases, and other educational materials for the library. We convinced the City Council to appoint a library board, and we wrote the board's bylaws.

Shortly after the start of the new millennium, we applied for and won 501(c)(3) status, so that donors could deduct their gifts from their incomes on federal tax forms.

From 2003 to 2007, members of the Friends led a county-wide effort to create a library district, to consist of all Linn County's public libraries and both city and non-city residents. As part of this effort, the group won a grant to buy an old bookmobile, fill it with books, staff it, and send it to rural sites around the county for several years. Primarily because of opposition from the Linn County Board of Commissioners, the districting effort failed. Some of the books that were on the bookmobile are now in the Scio Public Library's collection.

Despite insufficient space and scant funding, the Scio Public Library is thriving. We have a full-time librarian and a row of computers, provided by a grant from the Gates Foundation, that are always much in demand. Our librarian, LaVonne Murray, now takes charge of the summer reading program, but the Friends still help with it. We still run the library on Saturdays. Besides putting on evening programs for adults, we've run a grownup summer-reading program. Our fundraisers have gotten more creative; they have included a garden tour and two teas, one with a plant sale and one featuring teddy bears. And we still hold book sales and provide monthly funds for library materials.