MASON — The largest grant in the history of the Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation was awarded this week to the Mason County Library.
The $40,000 grant will be used by the library system to build a 20-by-40-foot room addition onto the Mason branch library, according to Library Director Pam Thompson and Library Board of Directors President Diana Cromley, who received the grant check. Making the presentation was Stephen Littlepage, Claflin Foundation president.
The addition will be known as the Robert and Louise Claflin Annex. It will house the children’s books and serve as a room for youth activities, such as story hour and summer reading. The room will also be available to the community and organizations for meetings or activities, and will include a kitchenette.
Littlepage said the project was chosen to be funded at the larger amount because it touches so many of the core areas in regards to what the Claflins wanted the foundation to accomplish. He added it applies to the areas of library, literacy, children and community development. Littlepage said while most of the grant applications hit one core area, sometimes two, it is the first that has struck four.
Littlepage said he believes this project would have been particularly dear to Mrs. Claflin. He said while he didn’t know her personally, he heard from many people of her love for children and how she was actively involved with them, especially in church.
“She would have loved having something like this to read to children,” Littlepage said.
The foundation president said Mr. Claflin had a great love for reading, the library system and literacy. Littlepage said Mr. Claflin often said he felt people didn’t read enough.
Among other reasons for the library addition funding are that it will be a focal point for organizations to come to in the Bend Area, Littlepage stated, and that the library adjoins the Virgil Lewis Memorial Reading Park, in which the Claflin Foundation has also contributed.
Thompson, who has been the county library director since 2008, said this will be the largest project for the library since she became director.
“I can’t even express how thrilled I am,” she said. “This will give us room to grow, and we are growing. It is much needed.”
Thompson said with the annex and the nearby reading park, more can be done not only with the programs already in place, but with new ones as well. She said the summer reading program is being revamped, and she hopes to have the annex completed prior to its beginning. The free summer lunches will also be offered again this year at the library.
Thompson said a large dedication will be conducted once the annex is built, and more family activities are in the works. She is also planning a huge story hour reunion for past and present participants and their families.
Cromley called the project “exciting” and applauded the Claflins and the foundation for their appreciation of the library system. She said coupled with the reading park, the annex will greatly enhance the Mason library.
“Joining these two projects together show how much the Claflins meant to the Bend Area,” Cromley said.
Blueprints are being drawn for the annex, with employees from the county set to build the addition. Foundation work is scheduled to begin at the end of this month.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.