- Posted April 5, 2014 by
Grants Pass, Oregon
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your favorite libraries
When a Community Loves its Library
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
My favorite library is the one my community built, together.
When it was announced in April 2007 that the libraries in my town would close, my 7-year-old daughter was devastated. She sobbed. I promised her that I would do whatever I could to help reopen "her library."
The next month, the libraries in all of Josephine County closed, leaving 85,000 people with no access to any library whatsoever. A group of citizens banded together to form Josephine Community Libraries (www.josephinelibrary.org), promising their friends and neighbors they would do whatever it took to reopen "our library."
The reasons for the closure are complicated, having to do with the end of a decades-old federal subsidy meant to reimburse county governments for the loss of income from logging on federal lands.
The bottom line was that our county government used money that had been intended for libraries for other things.
After 18 months of fundraising--grants, donations, even school penny drives--Josephine Community Libraries reopened the libraries in December 2008, and it has continued to operate them ever since with only grants, donations, and business sponsorships.
Since reopening, the library has been enormously successful, with double-digit growth year-over-year. The library is always buzzing, filled with children and parents, job-hunters, community groups, and smiles.
Now, hoping for a stable funding source, citizens are once again banding together to ask voters to approve a taxing district for its libraries. Josephine County voters will be asked to make that decision in November 2014.
If our library finally gets stable funding, I'll have felt like I helped fulfill that promise to my daughter.
If it doesn't, I'll still be in love with my library, this shabby little building filled with knowledge and culture. And I'll be forever inspired by what my community has achieved.
A wonderful video about our library was produced by the Oregon Cultural Trust and can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emc5psDP5dk