Some branch libraries would be able to check out books under a new type of intergovernmental agreement approved by the Douglas County Library Futures Task Force Friday.
Douglas County Commissioner Gary Leif said some cities had requested they be allowed to check out books. The new agreement would allow that, so long as each individual branch obtains a catalog system that allows them to identify books going in and out of the library. Leif said Riddle and Reedsport had requested the change, and he anticipates other cities will want to make the same deal.
The county pulled out of managing all the smaller branch libraries in April, though some have already reopened with volunteer staffing. The Roseburg branch is slated to close at the end of May. Initially, the county had said it would leave its books at each library branch, so long as they weren’t checked out.
The task force is charged with coming up with a long-range plan for managing and funding a countywide system. Some tension emerged on the committee Friday morning over whether that process is moving quickly enough.
The committee Friday heard from Sherman County Library Director MaryLou Martin, who joined the meeting by teleconference to explain how her library system has worked with local schools to provide services together. They also watched a couple of informational videos presented by Dana Braccia, from the private library management company Library Systems & Services.
Task force member Gary Waugaman expressed frustration more than once Friday morning with what he said was too much time wasted on issues that weren’t related to the primary mission of the committee. Waugaman said he wanted to make sure task force members’ time was well spent. At one point, he objected to questions asked by fellow task force member Linda Middlekauf to Martin about whether the Sherman County Library employed money-saving measures like solar paneling.
“Our time here on this committee is very, very valuable and I just think asking this person, nice as they are, about whether they’ve got solar panels on the roof is not helping us get to save the library,” Waugaman said.
Joe Coyne of Winchester Bay criticized the LS&S presentation, which he said was really just an advertisement.
Sigmund Kovachy, Canyonville’s task force representative, objected to what he said was rude behavior, after which Waugaman apologized.
Several task force members gave updates about their libraries. Amy Jensen of Riddle said they have been researching catalog systems and have been aggressively fundraising. A local guy will provide information technology services, and the library will have Wi-Fi. They plan to reopen June 6.
Dave Cunningham of Winston said his city is skeptical about whether the task force is accomplishing anything, and it’s not at all excited about a reading room model.
“If they’re going to be reading ‘War and Peace,’ they want to take that book home,” he said.
He said the city is interested in waiting to see what happens, because it wants to stay with the countywide system if the task force comes up with something reasonable. If not, they might want to keep the library closed and turn the space into conference rooms to raise money.
Oakland Mayor Bette Keehley said Oakland’s library is open. While it’s a reading room as far as the county’s books are concerned, volunteers are also collecting books that will belong to Oakland and can be checked out with a card catalog system.
Henry Stevens of Myrtle Creek said a note was sent in everyone’s water bill asking for volunteers to staff that town’s library, and the city received 50 of them. They are also gathering books and fundraising.
DeeDee Murphy of Reedsport said that library has remained open. It’s operating as a reading room right now, but has one paid staff member and is working to get a catalog system so it can check out books.
Bryan McNutt of Glendale said his library branch remains closed. The city council there is disinterested in the reading room concept. The city hasn’t run its library in the past and doesn’t seem interested in “holding that bag,” he said. A Friends of the Library group there plans to apply for nonprofit status and hopes to take over management of the library.
Roseburg City Councilor Brian Prawitz said the council will discuss the library issue at its meeting at 7 p.m. May 8 in City Hall, 900 S.E. Douglas Ave. Though he said he can’t speak for the city, he said it’s reasonable to expect it may be willing to chip in more for maintenance costs. Beyond that, he said, there are still some very large questions that need to be answered.