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Library Minute Archive

Library Minute

Save Our Libraries PAC Measure 10-145 Concession Statement
Don't forget to Vote for Library Directors!
Yes! We Do Read Books.
Will the Internet Replace Our Libraries?

Who Would Pay for a New Library District?

The Personal Message to Douglas County from Author Neil Gaiman:
The Personal Message to Douglas County from Author Jane Kirkpatrick:
The Personal Message to Douglas County from Author Barry Lopez

Why should we create a LIbrary District?
Is the Library System going to be closed?

We Need Your Help
Library District Budget?
Privatization of the Library System?

Charity - Only Source for Library Materials
Free Public Libraries - An American Idea
Does Supporting the Library Hurt the Poor?

What Librarians Say About Libraries & Their Customers?


Save Our Libraries PAC
Measure 10-145 Concession Statement

 Tonight’s defeat of county Measure 10-145 saddens us but it does not discourage us. Our striving to provide adequate and sustainable library services to the people of Douglas County has been an ongoing effort for many years now and we fully intend to keep that effort going. While the future of our county’s library system is now in greater doubt than ever, we do not doubt that preserving access to our free public libraries is essential to having a brighter and more fruitful future for our beloved home here in these Umpqua Valleys.
          The hard work of over one thousand supporters, campaign donors and volunteers has not been in vain. Tens of thousands of our neighbors have been reminded of the incalculable value of their public libraries and made aware of their libraries’ dire state on the verge of passing away. Our faith has always been in the people of Douglas County and that has not changed. We look forward to working with all of our neighbors to provide libraries that meet the public’s needs and which will have the ability to keep meeting those needs on into the future.

Don't forget to Vote for Library Directors!

There are six Douglas County citizens running for five Library Board positions. Be sure to vote for that part of creating our new library district as well as for Measure 10-145. All of the candidates listed on your ballot are trustworthy and competent supporters. However, with the five positions and six candidates it is possible that write-in candidates who oppose the measure may be elected to the board. Two such write-in candidates are currently hoping to get on the new library system's board of directors and both are staunch anti-tax adherents who oppose our measure. We urge you to choose any of the five people whose names are on the ballot, but please be sure to fill in those little ovals.
Find candidate statements at:

Yes! We Do Read Books.

Readers read—and America is full of readers. The Pew Research Center just released their findings in a nationwide survey of Americans and their reading habits. Only 1 in 4 did not read a book during the past twelve months. 65% of Americans read one or more print books, 28% read one or more ebooks, and 14% listened to one or more audio books. We read an average of 12 books a year.  The number of independent bookstores increased more than 20% from 2009 to 2014, according to the American Booksellers Association. There were 1651 independently owned bookstores nationwide in 2009. By 2014 that number had grown to 2094. Bowker Research reports that more children under the age of 12 are reading than ever before. Amazon has announced the building of a second brick & mortar store. According to Nielson BookScan 571 million print books were sold in 2015—a 17 million increase from the year before. Are people still reading? Why, yes they are.

Will the Internet Replace Our Libraries?

If the Douglas County Library System closes, won't the Internet simply replace it's services?

Indeed, if one can afford it, it is possible buy your own books, e-books and books on tape. You can also pay for streaming movie services or rent videos. Need information, just “Google it.” For those of us that are fortunate enough to afford computer devices and the Internet connection fees, a librarian or a specialized database may not seem very valuable.

But here's the rub. The user must know how to use these devices and the connection to web costs money - every month. Even if one is comfortable using a computer and setting up a connection to the Internet, they still may not be able to afford to pay for the equipment and the monthly connection fee. And many folks, even when they can afford to connect, still choose to read printed material - a great number of the growing population of folks over 60 in Douglas County feel this way.

So what is the solution? Regadless of income, skill level, or how they like to read, folks can go to the free public library where there are librarians to help them find information using the library computers to apply for a job, to search the Internet, or to scour the online library catalog for books, training manuals, magazines, maps, etc. Or perhaps suggest a book on tape or a video to aide seniors that have trouble reading printed material.

The Library is not the same one that you used at school or the one you grew up visiting with your parents. It is now very much a part of the information age. And, by-the-way, librarians have always been guides to quality information – that's their job!

Who Would Pay for a New Library District?

Like all essential community services — including schools, streets, and police — the library will be paid for by property taxes.

 Everyone who owns property in Douglas County pays property taxes. This includes residential property (houses, apartments) and commercial property (businesses, stores, factories).

People who own property (both residential and commercial) receive a property tax bill, and they pay their property tax directly. People who rent property (residential and commercial) pay their property tax indirectly because rental property owners calculate the cost of their property taxes when determining their rents. Property owners and renters all pay for essential community services.

 A "Yes" vote to "Save Our Libraries" will keep our libraries open well into the foreseeable future. If it passes, property taxes will be increased by $44 per $100,000 of property value, and every property owner and renter will contribute.

 Libraries are an essential community service, just like schools, streets, and police. In November, please vote "Yes" to save your library.
NOTE: For more information about how "compression" impacts your property tax. - Look for the article "Compression and Taxes" on the front page. It is possible that your tax total will not be increased by the new Library District. 

The Personal Message to Douglas County from Author Neil Gaiman:

Investing in libraries (and it is an investment) is an investment in the future, an investment in literacy, and an investment in curious, smart, involved citizens. It's an investment in safe spaces, in information, and in people who can help you find the information you need. Wise farmers don't eat their seedcorn, wise fisherfolk don't eat their bait: it's an investment in the future, and that's what a library is. I hope the measure passes.


The Personal Message to Douglas County from Author Jane Kirkpatrick:

I know there are many demands on the budget for public funds. More police and firemen; caseworkers to protect children; teachers to educate kids and schools and community colleges to serve them; health and mental health departments to bring healing to families and the elderly and disabled.

But here's where public libraries matter as much. Children exposed to literacy and books before they enter school through family literacy are more likely to graduate from high school, hold down good jobs, be good citizens who never encounter police. Families may not afford to have books in every room of the house but with libraries, families have a place to check books out for that exposure. Libraries help prepare future employees meet the needs that employers seek. The best employees are those who are good readers, can deal with many ideas, solve problems with critical thinking and get along with fellow employees. Libraries are places where those skills are accessed and practiced through the reading of ideas.

The Personal Message to Douglas County from Author Barry Lopez:

It is alarming and disturbing for me to learn that the eleven-branch system of public libraries in Douglas County is hanging on by its fingernails. For thousands of years, libraries have anchored the survival of various human civilizations. They are not simply warehouses of information. They are repositories of the collective wisdom people depend on to guide the development of their individual and civic lives.
Anyone who feels that wisdom has failed in our age need only enter a library. They will find there the recorded thoughts of hundreds of men and women who believed in a larger world than the one defined in each generation by human failure. They will find literature, which teaches us, again and again, how to reimagine the world. They will find philosophy, history, and stories of human adventure and misfortune. It is partly through reading such books that people rediscover the meaning of their own lives and revitalize their intentions to live well in the world. 

For centuries, despots and barbarians who wanted to destroy a civilization have sought to burn down people’s libraries. We cannot align ourselves with them. We cannot afford to close libraries, especially to people who cannot afford shelves full of books. We cannot choose, in effect, to terminate access, for any citizen, to the very material that gives us all a sense of pride in what our civilization has accomplished. We can’t do that and expect to survive.

Why should we create a library district?

The Douglas County General Fund money has been drying-up for decades now and there is not enough left to pay for our libraries, the dump, or our parks. Until a decade ago, the County could easily afford to provide library services because much of its general fund was provided by a share of the receipts from federal timber sales. This source of income has declined as logging on federal lands has been restricted by new environmental regulations. Until recently, the federal government was helping Douglas County with funds to help offset the loss of this revenue. But over the last several years this funding has been drastically reduced. In short, since the County cannot afford to fund the Douglas County Library System, it is up to the taxpayers to pay for it. A library district will provide reliable funding for the future. Back to top

Is the Library System going to be closed?
The preliminary library budget for fiscal year 2017 calls for a 44% cut in county general fund support. Based on comments made by Chris Boice at the May 17th Budget Committee meeting, the current plan is to allow our library system to use almost all of the fiscal year 2017 budget in the first six months of the year in order to maintain as near current levels of service as possible through December 31, 2016.

As of today, on January 1, 2017 our library system will have almost no money. What money it does have will likely be needed to carry out an orderly closure of our library system. Branches are most likely to go first, followed by the headquarters operation. The county general fund contributed $1,456,709 to our library system in fiscal year 2015, in fiscal year 2016 the contribution fell to $1,125,708 (a 23% cut), and the preliminary cut for fiscal year 2017 is 44% to $625,048. Clearly the county is unable to provide sustainable funding for our library system.

The passage of the proposed library district measure in November will allow us to avoid having our library system go into shut down mode on January 1, 2017. Back to top

We Need Your Help

It is official now, our library district support measure will be on the ballot in the November general election. It has also become evident that, should the measure fail to pass, the entire system, all eleven libraries, will likely be shutting down soon after January 1st 2017 due to lack of funding. So far, the effort to keep our library system operating has been carried out by a relative handful of citizens but getting this passed will now require a large number of our neighbors jumping in and helping out.
The Save Our Libraries PAC needs money and volunteers to help with the campaign—lots of both your money and your time. Please, take a moment to log on to and see what you can do by pitching in.
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Library District Budget?

The services provided by your library system in fiscal year 2008 was based on a total expenditures budget of $2.821 million, including a personnel budget based on the equivalent of nearly 46 full time employees (FTE’S).
The fiscal year 2018 expenditures budget for your proposed new library district was based on services and staffing that existed in 2008, adjusted for inflation and for additional costs related to not being a county department. So, how do we get from $2.821 million in 2008 to $3.855 in 2018?

Where will the money come from? Your new library district is expected to generate $3.6 million to operate your library; the remainder will come from fines, fees, grants, and interest on reserves (once they are established). Additionally, the district will receive income from residents not located in the district who want a library card. Back to top


Privatization of the Library System?

We often hear the suggestion that our library system should be privatized. This gets a bit confusing because there are two types of privatization that may be being suggested.

The most common notion is to set the our public library system up on a pay-as-you-go basis, by renting out books and charging for library cards. Under Oregon state law all public libraries are free libraries. The residents of the district pay taxes and in return they are never charged for using the library. Public libraries are eligible for grants and, as charitable institutions, provide tax deductions for charitable donations. All that goes away if the library is run as a for-profit business. This approach is not a viable way to provide adequate and sustainable funding.

The other form of privatization consists of handing the management and operation of the library system off to a private company as a way of cutting costs. Companies such as Library systems & Services Inc. which manages the Jackson County Library System, pay lower wages and provide fewer benefits to their workers than a government employee run system. Much of the savings in labor costs come from not paying into the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). This approach is possible and may, in fact, be how the new proposed district operates. However, the Jackson County Library System Board members are not all comfortable with the LS&S Inc. contract to run the the Systems 15 libraries. For more info: Jackson County library contractor takes heat - Officials question LS&S oversight, employee pay and corporate profits

Whether or not to hire a private company to run the library system is a choice that will have to be made by the elected board of directors, should this measure pass in November. Back to top


Charity - Only Source for Library Materials

It’s hard for most people to imagine a library without books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs and CDs but since 2008 the Douglas County Library system has been relying entirely on charity donations for these essential elements of the collection. In order to qualify as providing adequate service to the public, a library must have a sustainable budget for new materials. Clearly, relying “on the kindness of strangers” is not something that can be counted on to keep the collection intact. Our local library system is not adequately serving our citizens and hasn’t been able to do so for several years. We’d like to change that. Please, take a moment to log on to and see what you can do by pitching in.  Back to top

Free Public Libraries - An American Idea

The first tax-supported free public library was founded in Peterborough, New Hampshire in 1833. It was not the first library to which the public had access, for town libraries had existed before then. Its importance rests in its being created on the principle, accepted at Town Meeting, that the public library, like the public school, was deserving of maintenance by public taxation and should be owned and managed by the people of the community, who thereby ceased to be dependent upon private munificence. This is a uniquely American concept and one that has been adopted by many nations around the world that have followed our example. It is how we do things here in the United States, unlike, for example, in the People’s Republic of China, where there are bookstores but no free public libraries. Back to top

Does Supporting Your Library Hurt the Poor?

It is sometimes argued that creating a property tax base for libraries harms the poor, particularly elderly home owners who are living on fixed incomes. While it is certainly true that money spent on taxes can not be spent elsewhere, it is also true that there are many benefits which come with that expense and that the value of those benefits often exceeds the cost in taxes paid.

Those who benefit most from our libraries’ services are always our children and grandchildren, the poor and the elderly. Poverty itself afflicts both children and senior citizens at higher rates than the rest of us and we have, in Douglas County, an unusually large percentage of elderly residents. We see them often coming in to their local branch library not just for books but, in this age of epidemic loneliness, to spend some time away from the house in a clean, dry, well-lit place where they are always treated with respect and compassion.

Our libraries provide poor people with free services both in the way of the chance to borrow books, CDs and DVDs and in giving everyone access to the internet through free Wi-Fi connections and free computer use. Not everyone has a computer and many of those who do can not afford an internet hook-up. For the unemployed, it is difficult, and, in many cases impossible, to find and apply for a job without logging on to a website. Online courses needed to obtain new job skills also require computer access.  Back to top

What librarians say about libraries and their customers

David Hutchison, Librarian, Douglas County, 1983-1995.   I’ve been asked by a biker for poetry books. I’ve helped kids find a book “like the one I just read”. I’ve retrieved resume information for job seekers. I’ve shown people of all ages how to use a mouse.  Libraries are a “canary in the coal mine”. A flourishing library demonstrates the commitment of local leadership and citizens to fund a source of education, enterprise, and imagination for the benefit of everyone. Libraries help us all to meet our personal goals and contribute to a stronger democracy. 

Marilyn Woodrich, Librarian.  I ‘ve always been impressed by the number of people willing to come to a “Book and  Breakfast” program at 7am and even more than pleased that reviewers were willing to talk about a book or books that they liked simply because they loved reading and wanted to share their finds. 

Marian Coxon, Children’s Librarian.   Children need libraries, the only place that offers many FREE programs for them. Storytime  programs develop their early literacy skills and a love of reading. Summer reading programs help them maintain their reading ability. Libraries are a primary resource for school assignments and homeschooling parents.

Carol Hilderbrand, Retired Branch Librarian.  A librarian's favorite moments... a young child's delight at the puppet master's performance; a senior’s smile when she learns how to open pictures of her newest grandchild in her email; a patron’s thrill in finding the newest book in his favorite series; an online student diligently researching a difficult topic; a youngster’s concentration signing her first library card.

Beulah Everly, Retired Branch Librarian.  When I used to go to nation-wide (American Library Association) or state-wide (Oregon Library Association,) library conferences, our own Douglas County Library System was way far ahead of most of the other libraries in advisory systems and local support.  We helped so many people – we were the guys in white hats.

Lois Soulia, Librarian.  I’ve helped kids  identify the lizards or frogs they brought to the library.  I’ve helped students find information needed for a term paper.  I shared the fun of adventure stories for kids who were bored in summer.  Young mothers thanked me for finding books for them to read about the world beyond their kid- smeared walls.  Libraries level the playing field for poor kids.  Back to top

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