Enterprise library project to improve public access

Enterprise librarian Denine Rautenstrauch shows off the cloth book bags the library is selling for $5 each. Photo by Elane Dickenson

The Enterprise Public Library wants to improve access to its old building, and, thanks to a $5,000 grant awarded this summer, now has a plan to accomplish that goal.

While the construction of an expensive elevator for wheel chairs at the back of the building is probably many years down the road, librarian Denine Rautenstrauch described a more modest construction project to model the front end of the library to make it easier to enter the library. At present patrons must navigate fairly steep stairs with only a short space between the top step and a heavy door.

"The biggest problem is elderly people, those who don't get around very well or have breathing difficulty," said Rautenstrauch. "It could be dangerous."

If reconstructed, the entryway would include landings where patrons can catch their breath and stand safely, and an electronic door "so they won't have to push open the door with an armful of heavy books," said Rautenstrauch.

Another amenity will be a number of locked boxes at the foot of the stairs in front of the building so that patrons can locate and order the books they want (via Internet through the new electronic card catalogue), and the books will be placed in the boxes to pick up. Patrons who need this service will be given their own key.

The problem with even this modest access improvement, even with the help of the city crew, is that it will cost money. While an estimate has not been completed yet, Rautenstrauch guessed the concrete work would cost at least $10,000.

She said that while the city council is very supportive of the project, "You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip ... There is just no money in the city budget for it."

So the Enterprise Public Library is launching a fund raising effort, which includes the sale of cloth library bags depicting the library for $5 each. "All the proceeds will go into the construction fund," said Rautenstauch.

Because of two new computers recently received from the Gates Foundation, which is in the process of donating computers to every public library in the nation, two old PCs will be sold by silent auction in the basement of the library, probably at the first of next year. Also available for the auction will be a number of used printers.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the construction fund may drop it off at the library or send it to Enterprise Public Library, 108 NE 1st St., Enterprise OR 97828.

The very first phase of the library improvement project is underway this week, when the city public works crew is constructing a small parking lot for library patrons on the north side of the facility. The cost to the library budget is about $1,000 for gravel and treated boards.

Detailed plans for the reconstructed entryway are being drawn up by Ralph Swinehart of Wallowa Mountain Engineering.

The planning grant was awarded through Libraries of Eastern Oregon by the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District.

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