Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American industrialist thought to be one of the richest people in history, would have been proud to walk into the Roseburg Public Library’s grand opening ceremony earlier this month.
Carnegie, who was worth an estimated $372 billion in 2014 dollars, believed strongly in libraries and is credited with building more than 2,500 of them in his lifetime.
“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people,” Carnegie said. “It is a never-failing spring in the desert.”
Which is why watching hundreds of people flood into the recently re-opened book rooms to flip through books, log onto computers and sign up for library cards would have been a refreshing sight for the late philanthropist.
One that was refreshing for us, too.
The library had been closed for more than a year and a half after it — a county library at the time — was put on the chopping block by the Douglas County Commissioners in 2016 and ultimately defunded by voters.
Afterward, those who knew the anguish of waiting a few days for a book on hold sat speechless as they waited months to crack the spine of another library book. But as they began perusing Amazon, starting neighborhood libraries or revisiting home studies to fill the void, others sprang into action to avoid what was almost certainly a funereal future.
And thanks to those city leaders, volunteers, community philanthropists and library employees who answered the call, we can all enjoy — again — the countless benefits of a local library.
It may be no surprise we, a community newspaper that prioritizes reading, exploration and education, are thankful the library has opened its doors. But, as the legendary LeVar Burton put it on “Reading Rainbow” each afternoon, you don’t have to take our word for it.