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Cornelius library project snags $500K grant

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici on Monday, Dec. 14, announced a $500,000 grant to help the city of Cornelius build a new library and community convening space.

The award comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant program and recognizes Cornelius Library’s commitment to improve the cultural and civic life of the city.

Because this is a challenge grant, the Cornelius Library will need to raise $1.5 million in matching funds from donors.

“The city of Cornelius deserves tremendous credit for its hard work to earn this extremely competitive grant,” said Wyden. “A new library and public space will provide residents of all ages with a wonderful asset for learning and community.”

Bonamici thanked the NEH and said the library “is an important part of the community, and they truly deserve support for their expansion. Many Cornelius residents have no Internet access at home and they rely on the library for important tasks like applying for jobs or checking their children’s grades. This expansion will include a much-needed community space, increase community access to computers, and provide local affordable housing.”

Cornelius Library Director Karen Hill lauded the project as a community investment.

“Cornelius has the highest level of poverty and illiteracy in Washington County,” Hill said. “The new space is designed to yield some amazing opportunities to provide new and expanded literacy and cultural services to the community.”

Construction is expected to begin in December 2016 on the new three-story building that will have a library and community space on the first floor and affordable senior apartments (funded separately by development partner Bienestar, Inc.) on the second and third floors. The new library will expand from 3,000 square feet to almost 14,000 square feet, including a 100-person community meeting room, four conference/study rooms, a teen zone and large collections of children’s and Spanish language books.