Many people new to the Cannon Beach Library assume that tax dollars fund and public employees staff our village library. That’s the familiar pattern in most city, school, college and institutional libraries throughout the United States. Not so at the Cannon Beach Library.
The library regularly reminds visitors, new residents and occasionally longstanding patrons that the library operates as a non-profit, private, member-owned organization supported by fundraising events, used-book and craft sales, quilt raffles, a small subsidy from the city and an annual appeal for donations from generous Cannon Beach residents and visitors.
Before the plague arrived, these sources covered all expenses associated with operating the Cannon Beach Library.
These costs include acquisition of current popular fiction and nonfiction books, patron access to an online book service, video discs of films and popular television series, computer equipment for office and public use, utilities, building maintenance, garden and janitorial services and the salary of one paid part-time office manager.
How is this possible? Remember, the library operates as a private, non-profit, member-owned organization.
Those library members assure solvency and continued services because they and many residents, visitors and patrons contribute hundreds of hours to performing tasks provided by paid personnel at public libraries.
With the onset of multiple waves of coronavirus, most library fundraising activities—other than sales from the used book room—were cancelled during the past 18 months. Since July 2020, the library has gradually expanded access to library borrowing and other services and programs, including used book sales and virtual meetings of such groups as Friends of Haystack Rock and author presentations.
The library, including the children’s and used book rooms, is now open for limited browsing (30 minutes) on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Patrons can again access public computers, printers and WiFi.
Given that 171 new Covid cases were just reported in Clatsop County between August 7 and August 13, and Oregon has become a national Covid hotspot, the library has shown the better part of wisdom by re-opening gradually and insisting that anyone entering wear a mask and practice social distancing.
The important role library volunteers play in maintaining library services in Cannon Beach has focused attention on expanding the number of volunteers.
To this end, members of the library board have carefully described activities for which members and patrons might volunteer, as well as the amount of time involved. Some of these library tasks are regular and continuous, others may be one-time activities.
Examples of ongoing activities include identifying and purchasing new books, DVDs and audiobooks. An ideal volunteer would be an avid reader willing to devote 8-to-10 hours a month.
Volunteers also are needed to perform the typical librarian’s task of keeping a library section in order, clean and functional. This “Adopt-a-Section” program seeks volunteers, with some knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System, able to commit 1 hour a month to keeping their section current, organized and clean.
Another ongoing activity requires a volunteer to help the office manager with administrative and light office work, requiring a commitment of 2-to-4 hours a month or per special project.
The library depends on small teams of people working on committees over long periods of time. The book pricing committee is one such committee, It sorts and prices incoming book donations that are not needed in the library collection. The ideal volunteer has extensive knowledge of current or antique books and sufficient upper-body strength to box, lift, carry and transport books to the library’s storage unit.
The Northwest Authors Series committee also depends on volunteers to help plan, identify, schedule, promote authors’ in-person and virtual book readings. The committee meets as needed. The events occur on Saturday afternoons once a month from September through May.
Volunteers are needed to develop such children’s programming as the summer reading program or a toddler story hour. This volunteer would commit 2-to-4 hours a month.
The library awards two scholarships each year to seniors from Seaside High School. Volunteers on the scholarship committee devote 10-to-12 hours during late May and early June.
The library’s most popular and important volunteer duty is helping patrons at the circulation desk and requires a regular commitment of either 2-or-3-hour blocks of time between noon and 5 p.m. at least once a month. Circulation desk volunteers should have some knowledge of library practices, understanding of the Dewey decimal system, and the ability to work independently.
Claire Landrum, a circulation desk volunteer, now a library board member, organizes and trains new desk volunteers. A former teacher and school librarian, Landrum says, “I love being around libraries so volunteering on the desk was a natural fit for me. I had a library card here before we moved to Cannon Beach.”
A nonprofit organization depends on special events to raise an essential portion of its budget. Each special event involves a few or many volunteers focused on making an event succeed. Volunteers planning an event normally spend 10-to-15 hours per event.
Regularly held library special events, which require the help of volunteers for 1-to-4 hours, include the Rare and Old Book Sale that requires book sorters, cashiers and baggers; the Fourth of July Book Sale that also requires book sorters, cashiers and baggers; and the Quilt Drawing that needs volunteers to quilt, donate quilts and sell tickets at library and community events. The Fall Festival needs volunteers to bake, craft, cashier and bag; and the Holiday Tea also requires bakers and hosts.
Two activities that every special event and library activity require is “set up” and “clean up.” Often many people help spontaneously with both, but the logistics also require management and ability to set up and tear down tables, box books, move bookshelves, and occasionally clean or vacuum.
Through these volunteer activities most new residents and visitors to Cannon Beach form friendships, as well as meet established residents familiar with our community.
When asked to choose a volunteer assignment or two, think seriously about ways to contribute to the library, the community and your own development. Before you know it, someone will nominate you for election to the Cannon Beach Library Board. That’s when three hours a month as a volunteer grows into a larger commitment and likely a cherished cause.
So, it’s past time for fair warning of some upcoming events.
On Wednesday, September 1, Cannon Beach Library members will meet from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the open-air of Les Shirley Park for the first monthly membership meeting of 2021-22.
Then on Saturday, September 4, at 6 p.m., interested Library members are bringing blankets or chairs to the Cannon Beach City Park, East Second and Spruce streets, to laugh with friends encourage new memberships during the Coaster Theater’s last outdoor production of “The Case of the Coaster Clambake.”
Members of Cannon Beach Reads will meet via Zoom, Wednesday, September 15, at 7 p.m., to discuss Richard Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future.” Mary Lloyd will lead this discussion.
On Wednesday, October 20, Wanda Meyer-Price will lead the Cannon Beach Reads discussion of “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. Given current Covid speculations, this CB Reads meeting will also occur over Zoom.
Dana Haynes, managing editor of the Portland Tribune and Portland author of six popular mystery novels and thrillers, will read from “Sirocco,” his latest thriller and the sequel to his bestselling “St. Nicholas Salvage & Wrecking.”
Join Haynes’ presentation Saturday, September 11, at 2 p.m., on the library Facebook page, www.facebook.com/cannonbeachlibrary/
In addition to his 20 years working as an editor, columnist and reporter for Portland and Salem newspapers, Haynes served as spokesperson for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and communication manager for Portland Community College.