Roseburg Public Library has been selected as one of 200 libraries to participate in Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association (ALA) initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities.

The competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the library implement its first Roseburg Reads community book project.

The one community, one book format will support conversations about rural and generational poverty, housing instability, addiction and the barriers that keep children of hardship from realizing their potential. We will use the memoir “rough house” by Oregon author Tina Ontiveros to frame the discussions.

As noted on her website, Ontiveros “is a writer, teacher, and bookseller based in the Pacific Northwest. She was raised below the federal poverty line, living mostly with her single mother at the edge of the Oregon desert, but often with her constantly migrating dad in small timber towns around the Pacific Northwest.” Ontiveros was the first person in her family to go to college, earning a bachelor’s degree in literature and a master of fine arts degree in nonfiction writing. She teaches writing and literature at Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles.

“Rough house” explores Ontiveros’ upbringing, particularly her relationship with her charming yet abusive father, Loyd, who spent the final years of his life in Douglas County. Published in September 2020 by Oregon State University Press, “rough house” was an October 2020 Indie Next Great Read and has been shortlisted for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award.

As part of the grant, RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) AmeriCorps Participant Katie Fischer will take an online course in how to lead conversations, a skill vital to library work today.

Fischer will facilitate a discussion with the community about “rough house” on Thursday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m.; a conversation with Ontiveros on Thursday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m.; and a two-hour memoir writing workshop with Ontiveros on Thursday, May 13 (time to be determined). All programs will be online and free and open to the public. Details, including log-in information, will be announced in March.

Several copies of “rough house” are available now, and many more copies have been ordered. Holds can be placed through the library’s online catalog at roseburg.biblionix.com. A limited number of copies will be available to those who are not eligible for a free Roseburg Public Library card.

Since 2014, ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities initiative has re-imagined the role libraries play in supporting communities. Libraries of all types have utilized free dialogue and deliberation training and resources to lead community and campus forums; take part in anti-violence activities; provide a space for residents to come together and discuss challenging topics; and have productive conversations with civic leaders, library trustees and staff.

Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association in collaboration with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.

Kris Wiley is the director of the Roseburg Public Library. She can be reached at kwiley@cityofroseburg.org or 541-492-7051.

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