Douglas County Libraries Update
Reedsport. Yoncalla. Oakland. Sutherlin. Winston. Glendale. Canyonville. Myrtle Creek. The libraries in Douglas County are reopening, one by one, thanks in large part to volunteers.
Most small towns and rural communities in Douglas County are struggling financially in the wake of declining timber revenues. Public services, from health care to recycling, have seen big cuts. In 2016, libraries got the axe, too, when a Douglas County ballot measure to support libraries was defeated. “I believe in library services. I’m just not convinced they need to be funded by the county,” said Chris Boice, a Douglas County commissioner who publicly opposed the library tax proposal.
(Photo courtesy of Oregon Live)
Libraries closed all over the county, leaving 170,000 people without access to information and personal enrichment.
Not for long, however, communities quickly rallied. Volunteers and city leaders filed petitions, held fundraisers, learned about non-profit tax filings, materials acquisition and library technology.
(Abigail Helmholtz, 19, checks out books from the Riddle library.
Photo credit: Beth Nakamura and Oregon Live)
- In Riddle the mayor, city manager and a volunteer petitioned the county for access to the library building and materials. They reopened the library, staffing all services with volunteers. Materials were checked out with index cards and ledgers until another volunteer stepped up to help update the computer system.
- Last May, voters in Reedsport and Drain approved formation and funding for the Lower Umpqua and North Douglas library districts.North Douglas library board member, Anne Campbell, saw the 76% approval as evidence of how much their community cares,“It shows that Drain is a community that is willing to invest in the future and the well-being of its citizens.” Drain hopes to reopen the library at the end of the year, or the beginning of 2019.
(Library patron participates in Reedsport’s “Libraries Rock” campaign. Photosource: Reedsport Library Facebook page)
- In Roseburg, volunteers raised over $600,000 to renovate and reopen their library. With the passage of a city ordinance, the Roseburg City Council and the Douglas Education Service District agreed to split the cost of renovating the library. They hope to reopen this October.
- In Sutherlin, a volunteer took on a staff of 50 other volunteers who worked together to keep the library doors open.
Through the creativity of city officials, voters, dedicated library donors and volunteers the lights are on again in nine of the eleven Douglas County libraries, with the remaining two reopening soon. We applaud the efforts of these communities to keep their library doors open. A healthy library supports a healthy community.