Speeches and tour opens County Library’s new ‘Operations Center’

INCLUDES BOOKISH VIDEO | See what’s now in the space once occupied by Safeway on NE Glisan Street at 122nd. Hint: It’s the pride and joy of the Multnomah County Library system …

In the Hazelwood neighborhood, occupying a large section of a commercial building that once held a Safeway store –it’s the Multnomah County Library Operations Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On the dreary, soggy Wednesday morning of January 10, Multnomah County elected officials, and executives from the Multnomah County Library’s Capital Building Projects, gathered to show off the new Multnomah County Library Operations Center.

At 10 a.m. that morning, guests were ushered into a second floor meeting room where celebratory speeches were in order.

Speaking with enthusiasm about the new Operations Center, it’s Multnomah County Library Director Vailey Oehlke.

Before the formal program, Multnomah County Library Director Vailey Oehlke spoke with East Portland News about this new facility.

“Today is an important day for the library system, because this is the first of several projects being funded by the ‘Library Bond’ our community passed in 2020,” Oehlke remarked. “While this is not a space to be used by the general public, it’s a really wonderful representation of the transformation that is underway for Multnomah County Libraries – in that this is a really significant investment in outer East Portland.

“While it’s not a public library, it houses what could be considered to be the ‘heart’ of how people get their library material; we are creating a lot of efficiency around that,” explained Oehlke.

These are some of the about three miles of racks, now ready to accept library materials.

“Part of this facility supports our super-busy ‘holds process’ – for how people get their books and media – all of that will be managed through this building. It’ll have a big impact on people’s impact on getting materials from the library.

Multnomah County Library Facilities Manager Anthony Trapani describes what takes place in their Community Outreach programming area.

“This facility also houses all of our outreach programs,” Oehlke continued. “These programs take library services out into the community. Our outreach staff are housed here, as well as are the materials that they’ll take out to schools, transitional housing, and medical clinics, for example.”

Here’s your opportunity to take a video tour of this new library facility:


In total, about 138 employees will work in this facility, located in the Hazelwood neighborhood of outer East Portland.

Telling of her connection with this building is Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson.

During the formal remarks, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson told the small group that she’d shopped at the Safeway store that once was here. “I care greatly about this type of project that is happening here, in my East Portland neighborhood.”

These are some of the electrically-generating solar cells mounted on the roof of the new Operations Center. Photo by Bob Kerns

Chair Vega Pederson also boasted that the Operations Center is “LEED Gold-certified”, the highest level of energy efficiency – it includes 600 photovoltaic panels on the building rooftop to convert sunlight into electricity. “We’ve re-furnished this older building in this neighborhood, and brought it back to life. It’s truly great to drive by and watch this building’s progress, and now to be here today to see it as a beacon of sustainability in East Portland.”

Multnomah County District #3 Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards remarks that that Operations Center serves as the central intake point for all library materials – the place where they are held, sorted, and transferred to branch and regional library buildings.

During the tour of the main level, the group walked past endless rows of shelving, soon to be temporarily storing library books and digital media.

Explaining how a half-million books and media are sorted across three miles of shelving is Anthony Trapani, Project Manager with Multnomah County Library.

This is the Automated Materials Handling system now being used to sort incoming books and media.

Officials looked proud as they showed off a gigantic Automated Materials Handling (AMH) system. It “reads” RFID microchips imbedded in each book and piece of media, to identify each item – then whisk each off to deposit it in one of 65 containers.

With the AMH system, workers “check in” returns by the crate, rather than by individual item – so that patrons receive the materials they’ve requested more quickly at their preferred library location. The AMH is also used to receive and sort new books coming into the library system.

Yes, the facility even has its own print shop, and a real press. Operating the Heidelberg offset printing press, it’s Print Specialist Wally Eason.

So, while Multnomah County Library patrons are unlikely to visit this unique East Portland facility, its use ensures that any book, CD or DVD they’ve requested will more quickly be delivered to their favorite library.

By the way, the total cost of the Operations Center project was $62,528,627.

To learn more about the Multnomah County Library, check out their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2024 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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