They heard music, they spoke about what the Douglas County Library in Roseburg had meant to them. They took one last look around the place, and they thanked the library staff for their service.

Some cried.

The vigil for the Roseburg library’s final hour Wednesday evening was something like a wake, symbolized by a cardboard coffin painted black.

The Roseburg branch is the last of the county’s 11 libraries to close due to a lack of county funding. The smaller libraries closed in April, though some have already reopened with all or mostly volunteer staff. A county task force and the city of Roseburg are still trying to cobble together some sort of future for the Roseburg library. But as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, it’s closed.

Bob Allen of Roseburg said the government’s priorities are screwed up when the city is straightening the S-curves on Stewart Parkway while the library is closing.

“Shutting this library down is evil. There’s no other way of looking at it,” he said.

Beverly Paulson said a library “is a reflection of a community.” Closing it has brought this community negative publicity throughout the state, she said. “The nation,” called out several onlookers, an apparent reference to a May New York Times article that discussed the county’s financial crisis and its library closures.

“It is certainly a sad chapter in our history,” she said.

“Obviously this is a sad day for us all,” said Douglas County Commissioner Gary Leif. “I’m sorry. I wish I had better news for you.”

He said of the county’s 11 branches, nine have already either reopened or plan to reopen.

“I believe Roseburg will open again,” he said.

Bob Heilman, a supporter of the library district plan that failed to win voter approval in November, said it was truly a sad day, and one he wished hadn’t come.

“So many people I’m looking at right now worked so hard to prevent it,” he said.

After the speeches were done, Ann Vaughn of Roseburg told The News-Review it’s an emotional time. She got her library card when she moved to Roseburg 40 years ago. For her, the library’s been a source of recipes, reference books and fiction throughout those years.

Vaughn was crushed when the library district didn’t pass and when the closure was announced.

“I saw that as a sign of what kind of world we live in now,” she said. “It’s very sad.”

Al Walker of Roseburg wore black clothes and a black top hat because, he said, it’s a wake for the library. When he was a kid growing up in Ohio, his mother used to take him to the library on hot summer days, and that’s where he learned his love of reading. The librarian used to help him pick out books and even saved some for his visits that she thought he would like.

Walker, a library volunteer, had hoped the library would receive full funding through a district tax and maybe expand technological training and obtain a 3-D printer. Libraries, he said, “expand the horizons of knowledge for our children.”

Karen Bennett has lived in Roseburg since 1974, and used to bring her seven children to the Roseburg library. Library day was a happy day for her kids, she said.

“I’m going to be optimistic and do whatever I can to help,” she said.

Seeing the library close made Beth Brown think about moving someplace else.

“You can’t have a civil society without certain kinds of public amenities and services,” she said.

For Sandy Black, the library closure means early retirement. Black is the circulation supervisor and has worked at the library for 28 years. It’s very sad the library is closing, she said, but it was nice to have the support from the people who attended the vigil.

“It’s nice not to see an empty building as we make our final announcement that we’re closing,” she said.

At 6 p.m., Library Director Harold Hayes locked the door, and library staff members put up two signs, one saying “Library,” and the other, “Closed.”

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at ccegavske@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(7) comments

littletrumpet

Closing down services such as libraries are usually a sign of a declining area. Sad that residents of Douglas County, and Roseburg, wish to continue to be ignorant of the positive aspects that something like a library brings to the community. This area is stuck in the 1950's, and has no hope of ever advancing beyond that. Rather than try to find a way to fund something as fundamental to a community as a library, they try to think of ways to help fund something as asinine as a " boutique hotel" in a seedy part of town that no one in their right mind would ever want to stay at. This community is fast going downhill, and nothing will stop the decline.

Mogie

How nice of you to call those that don't agree with you ignorant. Instead of offering ideas and suggestions all I have heard complaining. Any boob and sit in front of their computer and complain. More difficult to come up with a positive suggestion. This has become a retirement community over the years you must hate old people...LOL

mysteron

I would have thought that a library was an excellent meeting place for members of the retired community, and apparently many of the libraries around Douglas County were exactly that. your point is?

Mogie

The last line was a joke hence the LOL.

PickNGrin

It took about $2M to fund eleven county libraries. In a county budget that totals $139M, one would think that about $500K could've been found to at least keep the main headquarters open a few days each week. Also, the county currently has $40-50M in "reserves." Rather than creating a crisis, a good management plan would transition the system to something smaller and more cost-effective over a multi-year timeframe. Has anyone considered the economic impacts of library closures on local communities? Or costs that will be incurred if/when the reopen?

Mogie

Interesting idea of transitioning into something smaller but while keeping the same basic functions. Sort of surprised that wasn't brought up. So it isn't necessarily an all or nothing situation. Smart.

Mogie

"Shutting this library down is evil. There's no other way of looking at it," he said.

Oh dear. If you think closing the library is evil then what do you think of homelessness, animal abuse, child abuse, murder, rape, theft, etc. Those things are evil. I find the murder of innocent animals simply because people are too lazy or too cheap to have them neutered evil. Just because you don't get your way doesn't make your opponent of those with differing opinions evil. Most folks don't like their sacred cow messed with. But when cuts need to be made the things that are the least necessary are usually cut or reduced in budget.

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