Library lays out Forest Groves welcome mat

Connections -- The Forest Grove library rekindles its mission as the city's 'community center' with an outreach effort pegged to April 14 event

Have you ever been a newcomer? With new housing developments popping up all around town there are hundreds of newcomers in Forest Grove these days.

People often move to small towns hoping to find a sense of community and to escape from the stress of larger metropolitan areas.

However, once they arrive, finding that connection may be tough. There was a time when the Welcome Wagon greeted all newcomers to Forest Grove.

This organization sent someone to each household with a basket of goodies and information about the community. Folks moving here today are unlikely to get this kind of personal welcome.

If you are a newcomer you may have a hard time discovering what this small town has to offer.

The Friends of the Forest Grove Library are sponsoring an event at the library on Saturday, April 14 specifically designed to help newcomers connect with the community.

Representatives from many community organizations will be there to provide information. Door prizes and refreshments will add to the fun.

If you are new to Forest Grove and looking for a way to find out what is available, this will be an excellent opportunity. Then, while you are there, you should take a look around at the library itself because one of the best ways to discover Forest Grove is to come to the library.

Forest Grove has the oldest library in Washington County. It began in 1909 when Adeline Rogers sold the land and the building, which became known as the Rogers Free Library, to the City of Forest Grove, which agreed that it would 'perpetually maintain a Free Reading Room.'

Mrs. Rogers died in 1922. She left more money to the library in her will and she was considered so much a part of the founding of it that a library board member wrote in the July 6, 1923 edition of the News-Times that 'our little library will ever be associated with the name of Mrs. Rogers who many years ago saw the need of a public place where the people, especially people from the country could rest and read and meet their friends.'

The author went on to wonder if 'perhaps our name is misleading. Community Center might be a better name, for so many things of helpfulness go on there.'

What was true in 1923 is still true today. The Forest Grove City Library could be called a Community Center and it welcomes people who are new to the community.

The library is more than a place to check out books, although there is plenty of that. Currently the library is open six days per week with daytime, evening, and weekend hours.

The library offers access to public computers and has information professionals whose business it is to provide all kinds of information to everyone in the community.

There are also community bulletin boards and information kiosks where you can find out what is going on in the local as well as the wider community. The library has tax forms, driver's manuals and training manuals for food handler permits.

Soon the renovation of the old part of the library will be complete and there will be space for large and small meetings. When you attend a meeting or a preschool story time in the Rogers Room you'll know how it got its name.

The Forest Grove Library is still a place where people can 'rest and read and meet their friends.' It is a good way to see a slice of your new community.

You can check out books, movies, music and books on tape or CD. The library is connected through the Washington County Cooperative Library Services to the collections of 13 member libraries. Or you can just come in, relax and read current magazines and newspapers for free.

You'll soon discover that going to the library is an excellent way to connect with the community and get your questions answered about your new hometown, because 'many things of helpfulness' still go on there.

Angela Arena is a library associate at the Forest Grove City Library.