My name is Nathan Eckman and I am a teacher who feels blessed to work, live and raise my family in Douglas County. I am writing as a parent, a teacher and as a concerned citizen who is hoping and praying that we come up with a way to save our communities’ libraries.
I worry about literacy rates and the simple joy and pleasure to the access of reading. I worry that we will lose people who will move from our community or be dissuaded from moving here when they realize we have no library. I worry about homeschool students having access to books. I worry about veterans on a fixed income who find great joy and solace in reading a book. I worry about my students who walk to the library after school or on Saturday or during the summer to check out a new book or pick up a hold or say hello to their favorite librarian. I worry about homeless people who are able to steal an hour or two of warmth and humanity each week inside our libraries while reading the newspaper or simply by being warm. I worry about elderly people on a fixed income not being able to afford a new book. I worry about somebody who has just lost their job who is going to the library to use access to the Internet to find a new means to feed their family.
I have been to the library in Drain, located near a beautiful stream. During the summer children often race back and forth along a path that parallels the stream between the community pool and the community library.
Winston’s Library is both a community center and a library and I have been wowed and encouraged by its role and strength in its community.
The library in Sutherlin, as you are probably aware is located near an old train; children during the summer are often found crammed into the community room participating in literacy activities there.
A couple of weeks back the library in Roseburg was packed during one of the coldest days of the year as people raced to check out books.
Now I haven’t had the privilege to visit the libraries in Canyonville, Riddle and Glendale but I can only imagine the impact that they have on their beautiful communities.
I want you to know that I am not blaming any one or any entity for the closing of our libraries and that I do not envy the decision or the stresses that our local leaders have undoubtedly faced.
I am simply suggesting an idea in an attempt to save our incredible system.
I am proposing that we develop a nonprofit organization. A nonprofit whose sole focus and mission is to fund our library system. A nonprofit that seeks money from individuals, corporations, and businesses to fund and preserve our beautiful library system. Are there people in Douglas County who would be willing to give their hard money to save our libraries each and every year? I know the answer is yes as well over 40 percent of our community voted to raise their taxes. I have faith in our community as I am often floored when considering how incredibly generous we are as well as how much the importance we collectively bestow upon our libraries.
Short term, it might actually save money to close our libraries; long term it will be to our economic detriment. Would you consider moving to a community without a library? Would you want to stay in a community without a library? How many people have retooled for new careers while at the library? How many students have found inspiration at a library? A community that values literacy will grow and be vibrant.
While my family would be able to afford to drive to Eugene to visit a library not every family or person would be able to make this trip and that hurts me to no ends.
Are there other solutions or routes that we are not considering? I would be surprised if there were not. How are other communities similar to ours keeping their libraries open. I grew up in the town of Yreka. A small town located just two and half hours down the road. A town that has seen many of its mills shuttered over the years. This town was able to come up with a solution to keep its library open. How is Grants Pass keeping its library system a float? What I am hoping is that the solution to our library crisis maybe is just within our reach.