LIANE HANSEN, host:
A little over two years ago, we broadcast a story by NPR's Howard Berkes about efforts by local residents to raise money to save the public library in Fossil, Oregon. Many WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY listeners responded to the story by opening their checkbooks to help keep the library's doors open.
Lyn Craig is vice chair of Friends of the Fossil Library and executive director of Libraries of Eastern Oregon, a non-profit group, which serves 45 public libraries in 14 counties. She also operates the Bridge Creek Flora Inn in Fossil, where we've called her. Thanks for your time, Lyn.
Ms. LYN CRAIG (Vice Chair, Friends of the Fossil Library): Why, thanks very much.
HANSEN: Now, last time we heard about the Fossil Library, things were pretty desperate. How are things now?
Ms. CRAIG: Oh my gosh, it is so much better. The situation has completely turned itself around thanks to the publicity we raised after the City ran out of money and had to close the library. Donations came in from all over the country and as far away as London, just over $20,000 in contributions. A very generous benefactor came through and contributed nearly $20,000 additional. And the expansion into the new space is going on right at this time.
HANSEN: Last time you spoke to Howard Berkes you said there wasn't a restroom and heating and cooling was pretty much a joke. Is that still the same?
Ms. CRAIG: No, now this is a nice modern facility. Before they couldn't hold children's programs at the library because it was too small. The kids actually had to cram into some of the smaller shelves. They would sit on the lowest shelves during story time. Now there are nice areas for children's programming, after school programs. And the Library Board is looking at bringing in all types of activities to the library and really, making it the heart of the community.
HANSEN: What about technology upgrades, expanding in that way?
Ms. CRAIG: Oh, a few years ago, you literally had to crawl over someone to get to the two computer workstations. Now there's a nice computer workstation area. The library has just been provided with a telescope that library patrons will be able to check out. And we have a video conferencing unit on the way. And that technology is pretty significant for a small community this size.
HANSEN: So, it's -- everything is going so well, the fundraising efforts are going well, the expansion's going well. Will you continue to fundraise?
Ms. CRAIG: Oh, yes. This is an effort that will go on. We were just touched by so many people from such distant areas getting in touch with us. We have saved all of the letters. We have dozens and dozens of letters from people. And I think that was the best part of the whole project, was hearing from so many people how a public library is truly the heart of the community.
HANSEN: Lyn Craig is the vice chair of Friends of the Fossil Library and innkeeper at the Bridgecreek Flora Inn in Fossil. Lyn, thanks a lot.
Ms. CRAIG: Thank you very much.
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