The City of Veneta enacted a library ordinance in April creating a public library and appointing a library board. The city did not contribute any significant amount toward supporting the library, so it was strictly a volunteer effort for the first few years.
Harriett Elliott had been a charter member of the Midlane Business and Professional Woman's Club and the wife of Wayne Elliott, proprietor of Elliott's Mercantile on W. Broadway (later Veneta Hardware and Farm Supply, now defunct). The Elliotts came to Veneta in 1919. Harriet Elliott died in 1963, Mr. Elliott in 1968. Mrs. Elliott had dreamed of having a local library. The Midlane Business and Professional Woman's Club disbanded in 1969.
Mickey and Gayle Gulick donated the property upon which the future library was to built in 1968. They specified the land was to be used only for a public library.
On May 1, 1972 the voters of the Fern Ridge School District approved the creation of an independent Fern Ridge Community Library District, to have identical boundaries as the school district, but governed by it's own five member board. At the same time, voters rejected the accompanying financing plan.
On July 25, voters approved the five year annual levy to finance library operations that they defeated in May.
In 1973 construction was started on the new library building. A building fund made up of donations collected over the previous decade was used to construct most of the building and it was completed with a federal construction grant in the fall of 1974. The new library opened on November 17, 1974 with 6,500 books.
Oregon Library Laws were revised and the State Attorney General decided the library District was illegal under the new laws. Fern Ridge School District passed a resolution stating the library would be a part of the school district. Until 1994 the district school board would be the governing body of the library, with the library board acting in an advisory capacity to set policy.
In 1980 school district voters established a tax base. The district board votes to include the Community Library requirements as part of the tax base.
In 1981 the Oregon State Legislature passes a law making it legal for special library districts to exist.
In 1991 Friends of the Fern Ridge Library was founded.
In May 1994 the Fern Ridge Library District was created with a permanent tax base and on July 1, 1994 took over responsibility for operating the library from the local school district.
In 1995 the Fern Ridge Library Foundation was established as a charitable, tax-exempt organization to raise and collect funds for the benefit of the library.
In 1996 Sam and Roberta Konnie generously offered to match up to $300,000 for a new building if the funds could be raised locally. The Fern Ridge Library Foundation raised over $1.1 million for a capital project that resulted in the library's current, 13,000 square foot building. More than $600,000 was raised locally.
In 1999 the expanded library opened. The community room was named for the Konnie family and remains one of the largest meeting rooms in the Fern Ridge area available for public use.
In 2008, a capital campaign to raise money to renovate the oldest parts of the library building kicked off as 'Renovate 08.' At the culmination of this campaign, over $260,000 was raised and the Chatfield Room, named for early library supporter Ralph Chatfield was re-opened, adding valuable floor space and increasing shelf space in the adult section by 15%.
Why not? Perhaps you've noticed the proliferation of frogs in our library? Seriously, the frog was adapted as the library mascot when the library was facing closure and the library was faced with the considerable task of forming a new special district. Keyte Hladky brought an inspirational cartoon of a frog and a heron. The heron was attempting to swallow the frog while simultaneously being choked by the frog. The caption read "Don't Ever Give Up!!!' and served as a tremendous inspiration to the overworked volunteers. A frog donation followed. 'Froggie' the green painted milk jug cut to resemble a frog with flashing red LED eyes collected change from children to help match the Konnie challenge grant. Soon the awards given to volunteers were called Froggies and there has been no going back.
History of Directors
Ruth Bishop Ross 1966 - 1973
Gloria Walton 1974 - 1975
Mary Jane Grediagin 1975-1991
Mark Yerburg 1991 - 1996
Wendell Buck 1996 - 1999
Rozella Van Meter 1999 - 2007
Colin Rea 2007 - Present