Douglas Education Service District wants to move into the Douglas County Library’s Roseburg branch, and help keep it open.
ESD Superintendent Michael Lasher proposed the move Friday at an Oregon Community Foundation meeting on library funding options.
Lasher said ESD would become an “anchor tenant,” and ESD employees would be able to maintain some of the most important library services in Roseburg.
“We’re not interested in single-handedly solving the funding for the library system, but we’d like to do our part,” Lasher said in a January video to ESD staff about the proposed move. “We just want to be part of the solution to preserving libraries in Douglas County.”
ESD would be able to keep the library doors open during its operational hours, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. It could organize a professional and volunteer base to operate the library during those hours and maybe other hours as well. And it could become the fiscal agent that seeks outside funding from foundations and other public entities to operate a revitalized library system. It could also serve as a hub for city-run branches in the smaller towns.
In his proposal, Lasher wrote that many have said the vote rejecting a library district was the “canary in the coal mine for the future of the county.”
The ESD, he wrote, is especially concerned about the potential damage of library closure to education in the county. And it’s particularly concerned with the loss of children’s literacy initiatives and parent-children reading groups.
“Our board is supportive of Douglas ESD stepping forward to help preserve library services,” Lasher wrote.
The ESD has 200 employees in Douglas and Jackson counties. It provides services like I-T, curriculum, professional development, special education and administrative services to 13 Douglas County school districts. The ESD is currently considering relocation or renovation of its current office at 1871 N.E. Stephens St., and if its proposal is accepted, the library building could be its new home.