The rebirth of Williams library

April 9, 2024 in

by Kate Lasky
Originally published in the Grants Pass Daily Courier | November 2023

In the heart of Southern Oregon, a literary phoenix has risen from the ashes. The Williams branch of the Josephine Community Library has undergone a remarkable transformation, thanks to the unwavering support of local volunteers, donors and library staff who worked together to raise funds and build a new library in the charming community of Williams.

The original Williams library was built in 1977 as a temporary modular unit with no running water and no bathroom. Since that time, the small rural library has grown to become a haven for book lovers and a cornerstone of the local community. This October, 46 years later, the library opened new doors at a new location featuring a larger space, a public restroom, and a paved parking area with ample room for the increased traffic.

The transformative turning point for the Williams library arrived in 2017 when the citizens of Josephine County overwhelmingly approved the formation of a library district. This decision was nothing short of a watershed moment, representing the community’s commitment to sustaining and enhancing their library services. The district offered a stable source of funding, guaranteeing a consistent revenue stream that the library could rely on. It was a pivotal move that set the stage for the revival of the Williams library.

After the completion of a facilities master plan in 2018, the newly formed library district and the nonprofit Josephine Community Library Foundation embarked on an ambitious project for Williams. The formation of the library district meant that the foundation could dream big, envisioning a space that would not only meet the existing needs of the community but also anticipate future demands for knowledge and community engagement.

And then, magic happened.

Thanks to the contributions of an anonymous donor and the infusion of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding made possible by State Representative Lily Morgan, the library foundation was able to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase property between the Williams Grange and Williams General Store at 158 Tetherow Road. With the purchase of a future home for a new library, the foundation began fundraising to renovate the existing automotive shop on the property. Together, the community and the library raised nearly $1 million for the property purchase, design, and construction for the new Williams library, breaking ground on the project July 10, 2023.

What’s most heartwarming about this renovation is the outpouring of community support that made it possible. At the grand opening this past October 7, more than 150 volunteers and residents gathered to celebrate not only the historic milestone, but also the power of community. The Williams library has been a cherished part of the community for generations, and this project symbolizes the collective commitment to preserving its anchor institutions for generations to come.

The new Williams library is more than just a move down the road — it’s a celebration of community spirit and a commitment to nurturing the love of learning. The project involved a careful balance between preserving the library’s magical character and infusing it with modern functionality. The result is a harmonious blend of the old and the new set on two acres of lush landscape primed for outdoor reading and recreation.

It features state-of-the-art technology and broadband internet, expanded materials and books, versatile spaces for indoor and outdoor group activities and individual study, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere that beckons visitors of all ages. The design by ZCS Architecture and construction by Vitus Construction incorporated energy-efficient features and flexible space, fostering sustainability while keeping costs in check.

The new Williams library reminds us of the incredible transformation that can be achieved when a community comes together with a shared vision, and when stable funding paves the way for that vision to become a reality. The new Williams library is more than a testament to books — it is a testament to the power of dreams, dedication, and a community’s unwavering commitment to knowledge, connectivity, and shared progress.


Special thanks to Josephine County ARPA, The Ford Family Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Roundhouse Foundation, Carpenter Foundation, Four Way Community Foundation, A Greater Applegate, Southern Oregon Sanitation and over 100 community members who made the new Williams Library possible. Farmer’s Building Supply and Ace Field’s Home Center also made in-kind donations of building materials.    

Between the Pages is a monthly column written by Library Director 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 is currently pursuing her master’s in library science. To send comments or questions, email