Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

History 1899-2019

The Corvallis Public Library began with the efforts of nine women members of the Coffee Club, later the Corvallis Woman’s Club. The official library opening was October 30,1899. The first two books purchased by the Coffee Club were Pilgrim’s Progress and The World Almanac.

A brief chronology:

October 30, 1899: The first two books are purchased by the Coffee Club officially beginning the Corvallis Public Library.

1920: The City of Corvallis assumes responsibility for the library. $715 is raised to be disbursed by the Board.

1921: Land for the original library location is purchased at 7th Street and Monroe Avenue.

1923: The library serves over 1,000 patrons and has an inventory of 4,000 books.

1931: The property is paid off. Fund raising begins for a new building. The City votes a tax of $25,000 for the new library building.

1932: New 5,200 square foot library is dedicated. It is designed by renowned northwest architect, Pietro Belluschi.

1965: A 17,000 square foot addition is completed, enlarging the library to 22,200 square feet.

1987: The library is filled beyond capacity with 170,000 books in a space intended for 120,000.

1988: The planning process begins to expand the library. A master plan for the next twenty years is written with community input.

1989: An architect and building consultant are hired. Facility plans are completed with the community playing a vital role in designing the library. Voters approve the $6.85 million library bond measure by an overwhelming 70%.

1990: The Library selects Inlex/DRA as its automation vendor. Automation begins for circulation, technical services, and the online catalog.

The Library moves to a temporary location during construction.

1992: The expanded Corvallis Public Library is dedicated.

1993: The library serves over 40,000 patrons with a monthly circulation of over 70,000 items.

1994: Library Services District passed by Benton County voters to provide secure library funding.

1995: The Philomath Community Library, built by community volunteers, opens.

1996: The Corvallis-Benton County Public Library issued 13,000 library cards, leading to 53,000 active library users and responded to 44,000 patron placed holds.Internet access for library patrons became available in April.

1997: Longtime Library Director Deborah Jacobs leaves Corvallis for Seattle.

1998: Carolyn Rawles-Heiser is welcomed as the Library’s new Director.

1999: Corvallis-Benton County Public Library celebrates its centennial!

2000: A new, state-of-the-art bookmobile arrived and the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library placed a major focus on programs for young adults. Over 94,000 holds were placed, 25,000 children attended programs, and 1.4 million items were checked out.

2002: May 2002, the Library installs a new online system from TLC to manage circulation, cataloging, serials and with a state-of-the-art, web based catalog.

2005: In April the new Alsea Library opened to the public.

2007: The Library initiates wireless access to the Internet at all branches.

2013: In May, the new Monroe Community Library is opened.

2017: Ashlee Chavez is welcomed as the new Library Director.

2019: A new chapter in community support for the Library began on May 21, 2019, with the passage of the first ever City Livability Services Local Option Levy, which included funding for a variety of library programs and services. The 5-year levy passed by a margin of more than 72%, indicating widespread support in the Corvallis community for the Library.

2020: While children’s materials had been fine free since 2017, in July 2020 the entire Library became fine free, with no more late fines for overdue materials.