Riddle is moving forward with a plan to reopen its library and even check out books.
The smaller branches that were once part of the Douglas County Library System shut down April 1, victims of the financial crisis faced by county government. While the county’s Library Futures Task Force continues to search for a long-term solution, many cities have come to the conclusion their best bet, at least for now, is to take charge of their own libraries.
Previously, libraries had been told by the county they could reopen, but only as reading rooms. Under that model, county-owned books would remain with each branch, but would have to be read on site and couldn’t be checked out. The county would no longer provide a computer catalog.
But Riddle began looking into a way around that. It’s been investigating smaller computer catalog services it could contract with on its own, and it sought an intergovernmental agreement with the county that would allow it to provide its own catalog and resume checking out books.
Monday, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners approved Riddle’s proposal.
Rita Radford, director of library services for the Riddle City Library, said Monday she anticipates Riddle will become a model for other cities that want to reopen their libraries but aren’t satisfied with the reading room approach.
Radford said Riddle will be able to use the county’s computers, scrubbed of the county’s software, and acquire catalog software of its own. The city, which owns the library building, will provide internet and Wi-Fi service.
Radford said most of the other library branches have expressed interest in following suit. Riddle is forging ahead with the approval of its city council, which is eager to have the library reopen.
Riddle’s reopening is planned for 3 p.m. June 6, and a full slate of summer programs for kids is in the works. It includes a gardening program with Master Gardeners, story telling, music, a Peter and the Wolf musical presentation, a puppet show called “Dogs to the Rescue,” and a rock painting “extravaganza.” Family events will include a pre-solar-eclipse party and a professional magic show.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Radford said.
The library has a list of about 40 volunteers, who will keep the library open five hours each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Radford is a volunteer herself, though she was formerly a paid library assistant.
“It’s a passion for me. I just love the library and I want to see it continue and be a help to the community,” she said.
Radford said she’s very thankful Riddle received the go ahead to work toward checking out books.
“The reading room is a cute little idea, but it doesn’t serve the public very well,” she said. “Very, very few people have the time to sit down and read at the library. Most of them would rather go home and read in their pajamas.”
Three libraries — Reedsport, Oakland and Sutherlin — have reopened already, and several more plan to reopen this summer. The Reedsport branch, now called the Reedsport Public Library, has also requested an agreement with the county that would allow it to check out books. At this time, though, it can’t afford the cost of a cataloging system, according to City Manager Jonathan Wright. Both Oakland and Sutherlin have begun local book collections so that some books can be checked out.
The Roseburg branch remains open until the end of the month.