The New Cornelius Library: A Literacy Center for the Entire Community- Cornelius, OR

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Community vision and values, Education and youth, Housing
  • Engagement Approaches Commissions/taskforces, Community conversations/dialogues, Community meetings (townhalls, forums, etc)
Project Description

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The New Cornelius Library: A Literacy Center for the Entire Community

The City of Cornelius’ Main Street District Plan identified the need for a cultural center, including a library.


  • Update and expand library/learning space for more people
  • Build efficient flexible space for evolving library/community program resources
  • Build an inspirational facility for skilled staff to run stimulating programs.


  • Create a shared space that fosters learning to strengthen youth and family literacy
  • Strengthen STEM, studies
  • Create a space that encourages life-long learning for all, and an environment that promotes advancement of social & economic opportunity, engagement and community vitality.

Project Summary:
In 2004, the need for a cultural center and library was identified by the Main Street District Plan. A bond, including the library and community center, failed but resulted in a committee of dedicated volunteers that kept the library and community center vision alive. In 2010, a private donor funded a library feasibility study that included community meetings and a public forum with attendees sharing what features they wanted in the project.

With public support behind them, the library committee began seeking a partner to occupy floors above the library to make the project both financially feasible and to better utilize limited downtown space. They eventually found a partner in a nonprofit, low-income housing developer interested in providing senior housing. With a new partner to split the expenses with, The Cornelius Place mixed-use project was approved unanimously by the city council.

The community of Cornelius has proudly raised $5.2 million to-date, with more than 200 individuals and 44 businesses contributing. Oregon Foundations, public funding, and the city covered the remaining shortfall.

The newly constructed building, Cornelius Place, now houses a library and learning center on the first floor and affordable senior housing on the second and third floors. The new library is ideally located in the town center, on a bus line and within walking distance of almost all residents. To increase inclusiveness and equity, the library recruits bilingual and Latino volunteers and staff.

Engagement Strategies:

  • A diverse committee of dedicated volunteers was created to steward the community vision for a library through development.
  • The feasibility study for the library included meetings and public forums for community input.
  • The Cornelius Library collaborates with educational, cultural and social service agencies across the county, including Centro Cultural, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, K-12 schools, Portland Community College, Pacific and Oregon State Universities, Adelante Mujeres, Early Learning Hubs, Head Start, Community Action, local businesses, Job Corps, Worksource Oregon and many more.
  • The library recruits Latino volunteers and staff to better engage the Latino community in the library’s offerings.


  • The community has raised over $5.2 million for the project with over 200 individual and 44 businesses contributing to the fund.
  • Over $70,000 of Oregon Foundations grant have been awarded.
  • A grant of $500,000 was awarded from the National Endowment for Humanities.

Additional Resources:
Cornelius, OR- 2019 AAC Winner: Presentation

Local Contact:
Karen Hill
Library Director
City of Cornelius
(503) 992-5301


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