When the lights go out and the doors close at the Roseburg library today, those actions will feel uncomfortably metaphoric. The light of knowledge being snuffed. The doors granting every county resident access to that knowledge shut and barred.
No wonder library supporters felt a vigil was in order this evening during the library’s last hour. Let’s all pray this closure is only temporary.
The loss of the county’s biggest library should shock us all. Story times and summer reading programs have made our kids smarter. So has the ability to go to the library once a week, or once every few weeks, and leave with a stack of books. Books offer windows to other worlds. They feed our minds with facts and our imaginations with stories. Libraries teach us stuff. They even teach us how to learn.
The modern library includes even more than the traditional books. Books can be checked out to read on computer tablets. Computers hooked up to the Internet allow people to search the web for information, and even to apply for jobs.
Libraries, like good schools, are part of the package that newcomers like doctors and business owners look for when they consider whether to relocate in a place like this one.
The death of a community’s library indicates a place in decline, one that doesn’t value education, one where poverty and all its ills — from ignorance to poor health to dependence on government welfare programs — are on the rise.
All our hopes for the Roseburg library now lie with two government bodies: The Roseburg City Council and the Douglas County Library Futures Task Force. We must now hope they do their jobs well, and find a way to restore at least a bare bones countywide system and some semblance of a Roseburg city library.
Knowledge is power. Let’s make sure we, and our kids, have access to that power. Let’s commit to doing everything in our power to reopen the doors, turn the lights back on, and read.