Melrose Elementary School’s library was a busy place on Wednesday.
Isabella Nielsen, a Melrose student who is almost 8, was glad to be there. She had a book called Horse and Pony Care picked out. She doesn’t have a horse — yet. But when she finally gets one, she plans to be prepared.
Isabella said she was very sad when she found out the Roseburg branch of the former Douglas County Library System was closing.
It could be another year before the city comes up with a plan to rescue that library. In the meantime, Melrose is one of eight libraries in the Roseburg School District that’s committed to remain open this summer for a day or two each week. Over the four hours it was open Wednesday, Melrose library had dozens of visitors.
Eight school libraries will be open for one or two days each week during the summer. Followi…
Wednesday was the first day Isabella had dropped by, and she was glad she came.
“I really like it. I’m definitely gonna come again,” she said.
Visiting the library with Isabella were her younger brother Tavit, 5, who enjoys books on animals and dinosaurs, and sister, Kenzie, 11 months, who enjoys the library’s puzzles, but is currently more interested in eating books than reading them, according to their mother Rachel Nielsen.
Rachel Nielsen is a reader herself, and enjoys mysteries, non-fiction and historical fiction. Even though there aren’t books catering to her interests at the school library, Nielsen said she’ll make it through the summer just fine with her Kindle and the used bookstore. Her main concern was for the kids, who don’t have enough books at home to keep them occupied through the summer.
“I think it’s great this library opened up. I think the community really needs it. I think it’s sad they weren’t able to find funds to keep the Roseburg library open,” she said.
Danica DeVoogd, 8, was also sad the Roseburg library closed but happy Melrose’s is open. Danica favors Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin.
Her mother Jill DeVoogd said having a summer library to visit is really important for Danica.
“I was really thrilled that they were going to have this open. Danica kind of struggles with reading, so it’s something we like to keep going in the summer,” she said.
Leto White, 7, checked out a chapter book from the “Warriors” series Wednesday. He has three graphic novels from the series at home, and was ready to step up to the chapter book “Midnight” from the series.
“I like when there’s different kinds of characters and they act kind of funny,” he said.
Leto was at the library with his younger sisters Brenna, 3, who favors Clifford books, and Corinne, 6, who said she loves the Melrose library, the school and her teacher, but she’s sad the big library won’t be open this year.
“I felt sad because I wanted to check some books out there,” Corinne said. “People didn’t put money in it so it closed.”
Their mother, Robin White, said the Roseburg branch closure was very frustrating, especially because Leto’s just starting to really get into reading.
“We use the library a bunch. It’s sad to see it stop and just sit there wasted,” she said. “I’m happy this is here, but it’s bittersweet.”
Even getting those eight school libraries open a day or two a week this summer was a bit of a heavy lift. Jennifer Thompson, Roseburg High School librarian, said the high school library has been open half a day per week in the summer for the past five years, but none of the elementary school libraries had been open summers for a long time.
Thompson applied for a grant, but didn’t get it. Then she called around to the parent teacher organizations, who were able to collect donations of $50 and $100 apiece. Then the city of Roseburg pitched in too, and after that, the school district contributed some grant money. Finally, they scraped together about $8,000, enough to offer summer library service.
Not every library is open. The locations were chosen to coordinate with the schools that offer free lunch programs. Kids who attend any of the Roseburg schools have school library cards and can check out books at any of the school libraries that are open, not just their own.
Thompson said the idea is that this will be a one-time deal. She hopes the Roseburg library will be open again by next summer.
While she was sad about the Roseburg branch closure, Thompson said she’s a “super optimistic person.” She pointed to Jackson County, which closed its libraries in 2007 and eventually figured out a way to reopen them.
“I don’t think that this is a forever thing. I think that we’ll get our libraries back open. It just might take awhile,” she said.
She said she’s “super proud” of Roseburg’s school librarians.
“They’re very nurturing, and they have great relationships with the kids in their schools, so I think having that resource in the summer is super positive for those kids,” she said.