Building a Bright Future — The New Grants Pass Library

July 11, 2024 in

Imagine a place where the community gathers, ideas flourish, and the spirit of learning thrives — a place that not only serves as beacon of knowledge, but also stimulates the local economy and develops connections among residents. This vision is becoming a reality in Grants Pass, where we are planning a new library at the site between 6th and 7th Streets and J and K Streets.

Libraries have always played a pivotal role in driving economic and social development. Following reconstruction of the Seattle Central Library in 2004, nearby businesses reported an increase in spending associated with library visitors, according to a report titled “Seattle Library Economic Benefits.” The library became a point of interest for tourists and is now featured in city marketing material. Similarly, the revitalization of the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago in the 1990s spurred economic growth and community engagement in its surrounding area. Our new library will continue this legacy by serving as a vital community hub, creating opportunities for new businesses, and fostering community pride.

In the summer of 2023, the Josephine Community Library Foundation purchased property in downtown Grants Pass, marking the future site of our new library branch. I recently had the privilege of interviewing neighboring business owners, and there’s one thing they all agree on: this new library will bridge the downtown main street thoroughfare, G Street, and 6th Street, to the Rogue River, improving the overall walkability of our beautiful downtown and contributing to the long-term stability and growth of property values in their vicinity.

Videos of the interviews will be available in mid-July on the library’s YouTube channel.

I’d like to extend my gratitude to the business owners and community leaders who participated in the interviews, including Kelsy Ausland from Ausland Group, downtown commercial property owner Ann Bauer, Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel, Library Board Member Tina Gotchall, Travis Hamlyn from Hellgate Jetboat Excursions, CEO Max Janasik of AllCare Health, Kaycee and Nathan Miller with Rentec Direct, and former Grants Pass Mayor Mike Murphy.

Original concept designs for the new library propose a community center that will help revitalize that section of downtown, expanding its reach to the Rogue River. It will be a space accessible to all residents, featuring secure outdoor spaces with the ability to host events, workshops, and exhibitions that bring life and activity to the area. The new library building will be a place where everyone can come together to learn, work, and play, where local organizations and groups can meet and connect.

In July, we are hosting public listening sessions with the community at large to gather input on your vision for the new downtown library and to determine the most important features for next steps in planning. These meetings are facilitated by the foundation’s contracted architects, ZCS Engineering and Architecture.

The community meetings will take place at 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, at the Weekend Beer Company, and at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 25, and at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 27, at locations still to be determined. A special thank you to Concierge Security for their assistance and to Oregon Humanities for grant support for these meetings. For more information about the upcoming meetings and the building projects, visit the Josephine Community Library Foundation website at

The library foundation has raised $1 million toward the new Grants Pass library project, primarily earmarked for site preparation. However, we still need to raise the funds for new construction. The challenge is that the longer we wait to begin the project, the more inflated construction costs will be. This is why we are hosting community meetings, offering four distinct examples of building designs with varying costs, and asking you to weigh in on priorities for the library’s services and the broader economic appeal of downtown Grants Pass.

We have a strong track record, having last year rebuilt the library in Williams with all private funding and this year renovating the library branch in Cave Junction with a Community Development Block Grant to support the residents of the Illinois Valley (adding a community room, a demonstration kitchen, and an outdoor learning area). To do this, thanks to the generosity of more than 560 donors, the library foundation has raised $5.4 million for these library building projects. Of that, more than $2 million was raised from individuals and business donors. The remaining $3.4 million was awarded through local grant funders and state and federal grants.

We are excited about the opportunities for the future and are grateful for the support of donors and grant funders. The new Grants Pass library will not only be a place of learning and growth but also a catalyst for economic vitality and community cohesion. Together, we are poised to create a lasting legacy for generations to come. Join us in this exciting journey and let’s build a brighter future for Grants Pass.

Between the Pages is a monthly column written by Kate Lasky for the Grants Pass Daily Courier. Ms. Lasky has worked with Josephine Community Library since 2009. She holds a master’s in education and recently completed her master’s in library science. To send comments or questions, email