As I write this, a thunderstorm is bombarding the ground outside with raindrops.

The sound of thunder can be heard rumbling in the background. The air is permeated with humidity. A darkness overwhelms the evening sky.

The storm feels explosive, but it is short-lived.

Of course, we’ve all been dealing with a more figurative storm for the last several months. This has not your typical Midwestern thunderstorm. It has been more like a hurricane – all encompassing and destroying everything in its path to the point that our surroundings are almost unrecognizable.

While we are collectively experiencing the same storm, not everyone is in the same boat. I can’t recall who said this or exactly where I heard it, but a “storm” does seem to be a great description of the past few months. Each of us have faced challenges from this storm. Yet the challenges have affected our lives in different ways.

Any experienced sailor will tell you the key to keeping your bearings in rough waters is to look at the horizon, not the bow. For the library, looking to the horizon means keeping our focus on the vision for building a new library that can best serve our community.

Though it can be difficult to plan for brighter days in the face of a crisis, it is essential to continue to sail the ship towards our next destination. To stop taking purposeful steps toward our goal would leave us adrift at sea.

It is in this spirit of navigating to a brighter destination that the library is relaunching our fundraising campaign to build a new Oregon Public Library, which will carry our community forward for decades to come.

While the recent storm has slowed our progress, our voyage to build a new community library continues. A new goal of December 2020 has been set as the goal to complete our fundraising efforts.

The need for a new library and the limitations of the current space have only been magnified by the current circumstances. Now, a new community library space, appropriately sized and well-designed to meet the needs of our community, is more important than ever.

Like any great odyssey, the journey before us will not be easy. A shared desire to make a meaningful and long-lasting impact in the Oregon community serves as motivation to continue moving forward.

Facing another great journey, President John F. Kennedy reminded us that “We choose to… (do these) things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

Continuing the journey to a new library, despite the storm, is one challenge our community intends to win. We will continue to do the hard, and sometimes frightening work of sailing to on to the next port. We will do everything we can to reach our campaign goal even as we navigate uncharted and tumultuous waters to get there.

President Kennedy had it right. A goal of this magnitude does organize the best of our energies and skills.

This is illustrated by the incredible generosity of our community in donating over $1.23 million toward this important community resource. It can be seen in the untiring efforts of our volunteers who have given of their time, expertise and passion because they truly believe in the importance of the library in our community. It can be seen in the amazing resilience of the library staff and their unwavering commitment to serve the needs of each community member – even when the buildings doors remain closed.

While we’ve definitely hit rough waters, there is smoother sailing and bright skies ahead. All we have to do is keep our eye on the horizon.

This storm, too, shall pass, and on the other side, our community will reap the benefits of keeping a steady hand at the wheel and doing things not because they were easy, but because they were hard.

We will do these things because they matter. Kennedy’s vision got three men to the moon and back.

Our journey to a new library may only be few blocks, but it is an important one. When it is realized, it will create endless opportunities for our community members.

A brilliant rainbow arches proudly over Oregon in the aftermath of tonight’s thunderstorm. A robin sits playfully on the power line outside my house as a band of light extends to the trees nearby. A vibrant purple sunset takes over the sky.

Let us join together in making a new Oregon Public Library possible. It will be a rainbow at the end of our storm.

Jennifer Endres Way is the director of the Oregon Public Library.