Library reopens to delighted crowds
Last updated 10/31/2023 at 9:29am
The long wait is over. Readers and library users of all ages gathered Saturday in brisk temperatures at the doors of the Sisters Library for its grand reopening celebration. By noon, when the dedication began, more than 100 were on hand. Throughout the afternoon hundreds more streamed in to see firsthand the significant upgrades to the 8,300-square-foot, 18-year-old structure.
The renovated library was six years in planning and nine months under construction. Among the upgrades to the renovated facility according to Deschutes County Library Director Todd Dunkelberg, "include a vibrant, all-new children's discovery space designed to engage young learners and spark the imagination. Two new meeting and study rooms provide a place for the public to meet, something that was repeatedly requested during the planning phase. A large community room features state-of-the-art technology as well as a retractable glass wall to allow for flexibility of use, including after-hours access."
Dunkleberg was on hand for the reopening, giving introductory remarks with notes of appreciation to the staff, planners, designers and contractors. And to the citizens who funded the substantial upgrades.
"This is your building, Sisters," he said, looking out at the beaming faces gathered at the doors on North Cedar Street, many of them children eager to get inside.
The renovation was paid for by a November 2020 voter-approved bond measure, which also went toward upgrading libraries in downtown Bend, East Bend, La Pine and Sunriver. The bond is also funding the design and construction of a new library in east Bend that will break ground next year.
Two of the first to arrive were Eric, age 7, and his sister, Ukiah Stukel, age 9, accompanied by mom, Emily.
"They are the most frequent visitors to the library I am sure," said Emily Stukel. "Or a close second. We have missed not having a fully functional library, but still came to the temporary one."
For months while work was underway, a prefabricated building served as the interim library parked outside on the grounds, providing a modicum of library activities. The Stukel kids and many more like them waited through the short ceremony, but made a run for the doors once local Sisters Branch Operations Supervisor Zoe Schumacher, cut the ceremonial ribbon.
As the crowd of readers snaked its way into the building, there were audible gasps when it was realized the wholesale changes to the library.
"I don't recognize it," said Jerry Ottinger. "This is way more than I imagined. A total transformation. What an amazing change!"
"I had no idea it would turn out like this," said Leigh Farmer. "I was expecting a paint job, maybe some new carpet and shelves. But this! This is extraordinary. It's brand new from wall to wall, top to bottom."
Such were the words of nearly everybody who entered. While children rushed to stacks and techno wizardry, parents and grandparents strolled about comparing observations.
Mayor Michael Preedin was on hand, but not as a dignitary.
"I'm just here as a citizen amazed at what's happening," he said. "This is Sisters at its best. With all that's going on in town today, all these folks came to their library to celebrate."
And celebrate they did. There was music by Erin Cole-Baker, yummy sandwich wraps, cookies, face painting, a balloon artist, and more. Visitors took home tote bags and other souvenirs. Plus books. Kids and adults loaded up, utilizing the new state-of-the-art self-check-out kiosks. Often somebody younger than a teen was instructing an adult in how to use the technology.
On hand to help Schumacher cut the ribbon were Bunny Thompson, Kathryn Godsiff, Marilyn Stinnett, and MacKenzie Frutos, all long-time devotees of the library.
Schumacher, who has led the Sisters Library team since its opening in 2005, told The Nugget, "Here we are 18 years later opening the same building after an eight-month remodel project. The Sisters community has always loved their library. This was more than apparent on Saturday! It was wonderful to see a dedicated community come together in celebration of their beloved library!
"Families, individuals young and old, library users and non-users. Over 500 community members attended during the two-hour event. We issued approximately 35 'new' library cards during that time. Very exciting indeed!"