This project benefited The Clackamas County Library in a town called Happy Valley, Oregon, located 20 miles Southeast of Portland. In May 2010, the Clackamas County Library director sent a letter to the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers requesting help in building book shelves for a new library. The Clackamas County Library (CCL) system contains a number of libraries serving rural Clackamas County communities. Happy Valley was to be the beneficiary of this project, a remodel of an existing Clackamas County building to accommodate a new library, scheduled to open the winter of 2011.
he shelves requested were not the typical library shelves one is accustomed to seeing in a library. Representatives of the Guild visited a branch library and were shown the unique library shelf configuration. They were called “gondolas”, thirty years old, and were falling apart. The “gondola” and shelf is unique, in that, no matter where a book rests on a shelf in height from the floor the title can still be read without bending over. This is because each shelf tilts upward as it gets closer to the floor, exposing more of the book title to the reader. The old shelves were made of fir plywood and other cheap materials. The goal was to provide better quality, furniture grade shelves, utilizing the basic design concept.
Bill Wood stepped up as the lead project person and the Guild’s Board approved the project. Then planning began to implement the project. It was decided the Guild would build thirteen shelves in a manner similar to the old “gondola” currently in use. It involved designing and building a two sided structure with adequate internal bracing, and an attachment mechanism for the shelves.
The basic frame of the “gondolas” was built using poplar. Bracing was added for strength and to keep the “gondola” from racking from side to side when moved.
Red oak was the primary building material The mounting idea was derived from some retail store shelves, called “slat boards”. Ten moveable shelves of red oak were built for each gondola, five for each side of the gondola.
The end panels were made of red oak and “ebonized” with a thinned coat of black gel stain. A cap board on top provided the final finished look.
The project was huge in number of components: 13 gondola frames, 676 slat boards, 26 end panels, 13 top caps, and 520 shelf parts,
Bill Wood gracefully endured his garage being temporarily converted into a spray booth by hanging plastic sheeting up and using fans to exhaust fumes. By this time a year had elapsed since work started on this project. Now it was summer 2011 and the weather was somewhat cooperative. Some days it would rain and spraying would be postponed
The cost of the project was over $15,000 just for materials and supplies. The Guild volunteers contributed their time and shops at no cost to build and finish the units. Thirty Guild members volunteered for the work sessions which ranged from two to four days a week. The project involved five different shops and totaled just over 1300 man hours during the 14 month project.