Laura Burnett, the regional director of the private library management company, Library Systems and Services, addressed the Douglas County Library Futures Task Force Friday.
Burnett said she will put together a full proposal, including the price of services, once the task force has identified how much it wants to spend and what it would want in a contract.
But she had some suggestions. She recommended the countywide system be maintained, or alternatively a coalition of cities that shares books and a library catalog.
“You have a county system. We hate to see it get broken up,” Burnett said.
With a coalition model, county residents living outside the cities could be asked to pay an annual fee for a library card. Other ideas for fundraising include raising funds based on each city’s population, at a rate of about $1 per person to pay staffing costs.
LSS serves libraries in 84 locations, including Jackson County. Burnett said if LSS was chosen to run the libraries, it would provide off-site human resources, cataloguing and book purchasing services. She said two part-time employees should be hired locally — one to train volunteers and the other to coordinate them.
She said this system, if run by volunteers, would be unique. At its other locations, the company provides on-site librarians.
Despite the volunteer-based staff, she said she would want the libraries here to be open seven days a week, for as many hours as possible.
Burnett plans to meet with the Douglas Education Service District to see if the two organizations can come up with a proposal together. ESD has proposed moving into the Roseburg branch as well as possibly one South County branch.
ESD Director Michael Lasher said Friday that ESD and LSS could be good partners, since ESD doesn’t know how to run a library but it could provide some educational services like children’s story times.
“Either of us alone perhaps isn’t as much of a positive solution as (both of) us together,” he said.
Roseburg City Councilor and task force member Brian Prawitz asked why ESD was getting “pushed to the front of the line” over other possible partners like Umpqua Community College.
Douglas County Commissioner Gary Leif said it isn’t.
“We’re still in our infancy stages, and we’re looking at all our options,” Leif said. However, he said ESD might make a good partner.
Prawitz also asked if the county can’t afford a library, how it could afford to hire LSS. Burnett said that depends on what the cities are willing to do. Burnett said she needs to know what she has to work with before she can present a full proposal with pricing. Linda Middlekauf, task force member representing people who opposed a library tax district, was optimistic about what LSS could do for the county’s library system.
“This organization offers the freedom of thinking outside the box,” she said.
Pat Fahey, task force member at large, said LSS had come under fire in Jackson County in 2016 for paying its workers low wages. There’s two sides to the coin, he said, and both bear looking at.
Gary Waugaman, task force member representing the Douglas County Library Foundation, said the task force needed to stop bringing in speakers and start working on a budget of what it wanted to continue funding and how much it wanted to spend.