Can’t Beat Cannon Beach

Right downtown, just a short walk from the sands, we found the adorable Cannon Beach Library (CBL).  Out front a cheery green and yellow hand painted sign, evergreens and blooms dot the flagstones.  Under a large plaque fashioned as a bookshelf, a redwood bench carved with a marine scene encourages you to have a seat and watch the parade of daytrippers.

View from the street

Along the street

Strolling along a short path at the side of the building, we spotted the international symbol for libraries flying on a large banner above the sheltered doorway.  Trimmed with a scarecrow and pumpkins for the harvest, the entrance provides a water bowl for thirsty pups and a glassed in bulletin board.

Before I left for Oregon last October, I contacted the office manager Buddie Anderson, the only paid employee, who kindly agreed to let my mother and I tour CBL before they opened for the day.  As promised she was there, along with several industrious members of the board, including friendly treasurer Phyllis Bernt.  Unfortunately they were all camera shy, but did supply plenty of information.

Bill Steidell did this fun picture

Bill Steidell did this fun picture and the sketch used as a logo

CBL is a nonprofit corporation, privately owned by its membership (for $10 annually, anyone can join) so is not eligible for many types of funding, but ILL is available in conjunction with the Seaside Consortium and they cooperate with Oregon public institutions to provide ebooks.  Though applying for grants was necessary in the past, the city, recognizing the considerable value of the library, is now giving some backing totaling a bit less than 20% of the budget and leases the land to them at an unbeatable price.

Cards are five dollars per year for any family, be they visitor or native.  Oregon does have statewide reciprocal privileges, so if e.g. you live in Cannon Beach and go eight miles to join the Seaside Public Library for $50, you can borrow from any other OR public facility.

PCs by Haystack tomes

PCs by local history

Focusing on an amazing natural feature just steps away, the Haystack Rock Awareness section above memorializes Bob Carey.  Close by is the Oregon Coast collection with volumes on regional wildlife and sea creatures and a selection of titles on the Northwestern US, many of which go out.

Previously in PR and fundraising, Buddie is particularly qualified for this job and also has the expertise needed to handle their computer network.  CBL automated six years ago and has free wifi strong enough to reach outside if you want to bask in a beautiful coastal day or use it when they’re closed.  They have two public computers available for ten cents a minute so many tourists come in to print boarding passes.

Buddie’s been here almost two years and is the first full timer.  About 80 volunteers a year donate time reading shelves, helping with technical support, running the big three day Fourth of July booksale and keeping the library open six days a week.  Income varies according to the success of fundraising efforts at events like Fall Festival.

Book sale

Book shop

This room has an ongoing materials sale with a couple of attractive display ledges.  Hardcovers and paperbacks are helpfully divided into categories such as “mysteries & suspense.”

Other monies come from selling American Primitive style prints of Cannon Beach done by Jennifer Lake, or as someone joked, “We rob banks.”  The quilt drawing is another source.  The latest creation was organized by Janet Bates, a master quilter and her four talented cohorts.

Circulation desk

Circulation desk and coverlet

CBL began in the back of a store in 1927.  The main part of the pleasantly weathered timber one story structure was built in 1976 and harbors 15,000 items.  Attic storage is accessible via pull down stairs and in Kid’s, chairs for programs are hidden beneath a table skirt the co president’s husband constructed.  This freed up the bathroom, though it quickly filled up with other essentials.

Gleaming wainscoting and molding border a gas fireplace set in a big stone hearth festooned in colorful autumn leaves, hurricane lamps and a tall model of a pirate ship complete with skull and crossbones on its sails.

Cozy spot for a wet day

Cozy spot for a wet day

Holiday teas, lectures, a twitter feed and writer series are some of the amusements offered for adults.  As so many of their users are vacationers, it’s almost all popular books, DVDs, audiobooks and there’s a free magazine rack.  The sole reference item is an encyclopedia set.

The Facebook page promotes author talks and the reading group.  It’s loaded with snaps of happy patrons and of volunteers installing the new fuchsia bushes and graceful plantings along the exterior – a project done in conjunction with the city and a local landscape artist.  The christening ceremony of the charming verdigris scallop and clam shell topped marble bubbler honoring Harley Sroufe, a respected citizen whose wife was a key member of the organization, shows all his family attending.

One of Shirley Gittelsohn's works

One of Ms. Gittelsohn’s works

All the paintings have been donated including the dreamlike seascapes by Shirley Gittelsohn.  Neil Maine took the stunningly unusual photograph of a red winged blackbird perched on a deer’s snout in the marsh out back.  You’ll often see him there silently stalking the perfect shot.  But despite the multiple representations of this peculiar looking species on the premises, puffins don’t usually venture in.


Fifteen hundred people permanently live in this lovely ocean community.  With lava monoliths lashed by waves, wide windswept beaches firm enough for easy strolling and native foliage and pines edging the shore,  it’s such a pretty place that the population swells to 32,000 in summer (along with the traffic which can make it tough to get to work on time during the warmer months).


Thanks in large part to these dedicated women, the children’s area was added in 1997, giving the library a total of about 1800 square feet.

Frames enclose posters of jungle denizens, portraits of girls, wall hangings of young readers and pastels of sailors relishing a wild catamaran ride.

Kid's quarters

Kid’s quarters

Replicas of an old locomotive and Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel sit on a shelf and a multihued kite in the shape of a schooner is draped from the ceiling.  Light streams in through a butterfly banner tinting the space.  Near a lavender cart, a petite lemon and blueberry shaded table holds a basket of crayons, coloring book and a sturdy puzzle.  Sun cast silhouettes of dragons dapple two long cushioned seats and in a corner, I noticed teensy coral and lime chairs by several spindles of easy readers.

Fisherman's float by the panes echoes the azure sky

Fisherman’s float by the panes echoes the azure sky

CBL does their own summer reading program and has functions for the small set like magic shows and Zombie Fest.

Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock

Such a delightful library for this gorgeous community!

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4 Responses to Can’t Beat Cannon Beach

  1. Patricia Hassan says:

    Sounds like a seaside version of Estes Park! What a charming space! One big contrast for most libraries is that scheduling a book sale over a holiday is a big no-no. But then, I remembered: the tourists are more plentiful there over the Fourth!

  2. I absolutely love this library! It reminds me of our little Chincoteague Island Library! Thanks for sharing.

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