Ten branches with the Douglas County Library system will close on April 1 this year.
That was the conclusion Douglas County commissioners reached prior to a library staff meeting Monday. The announcement was first made at the staff meeting.
The branch closures are part of an overall plan to ramp down library services by the end of the fiscal year in June.
The 10 closures include branches in Canyonville, Drain, Glendale, Myrtle Creek, Oakland, Reedsport, Riddle, Sutherlin, Winston and Yoncalla. The main library in Roseburg will have a tentative closure date of May 30.
Before the staff meeting Monday, Douglas County Library Director Harold Hayes reached out to commissioners for a consensus on funding the library, Commissioner Chris Boice said.
Ever since voters turned down a taxing district in November that would have kept the library afloat, the county has been struggling to find a means of funding it.
Hayes gave the commissioners three options. The first option would have left the budget as is, which would prompt immediate closure due to lack of funding. The second option would have pulled money out of the general fund to keep the system open through the end of the fiscal year in June, which would cost an extra $300,000. The original 2017 fiscal year budget for the library included expenditures of $1.4 million, with a general fund contribution of $625,000.
The last option would have been to completely fund the system indefinitely.
The commissioners went with the second option. They did not reach this decision in a public meeting, but rather, through an administrative task put forth by the library department head.
“We make dozens of decisions a week, administrative decisions, without (public) meetings,” Commissioner Tim Freeman said. “That’s part of how we administer the county.”
Hayes and Boice made the announcement to ramp down services to library staff on Monday. Boice, the commissioners’ library liaison, was the only commissioner present at the meeting.
“We don’t have to have a commissioner meeting to give a department head direction,” Boice said.
The commissioners will need to make any budgetary decisions in a public setting, Boice said. That includes pulling $300,000 out of the general fund.
The county library system is staffed by eight full-time, 28 part-time and 12 on-call employees.