As Roseburg City Council approved a library ordinance Monday, moving the efforts to reopen the Roseburg library forward, Douglas Education Service District is looking forward to its own role in the high-profile project.
“We’re really excited to be able to help the community reopen the library,” district Superintendent Michael Lasher said.
The Roseburg library, formerly a part of the Douglas County Library System, closed on May 31. A few weeks before that, the city of Roseburg set about to take ownership of the library.
After months of discussion between Lasher and City Manager Lance Colley, work behind the scenes by consultants examining the library building and fleshing out a plan for the facility, the library project could soon be in the hands of decision makers for the city and the district.
Colley said at Monday’s City Council meeting that the next three to four meetings would have library-related items, and that the district also expects to have board consideration of library items, including an operating agreement between the city and the district some time in March or April.
Lasher said he has been talking with Colley for six to eight months about the possibility of reopening the library. During that time, he has kept the district board informed of the talks. The board has shown support for the project verbally and through “straw votes.”
Lasher said the board is made up of people supportive of children and learning, and they are pleased to be able to support the library’s reopening.
The district would have a number of roles in a reopened library, which could happen as soon as summer 2018, if a contractor can be found.
One role would be as co-tenant in the library, moving administrative offices to part of the building. The move would free up space at the district’s Stephens Street office for a remodel to use as an early education site.
Another role would be managing the information technology part of the library including the circulation system and internet system. Libraries are about more than books, Lasher said, and online materials are an increasingly important part of a library’s operations.
“Libraries are becoming more than a repository of books,” Lasher said.
Lasher said a goal is to transport books to other libraries in Douglas County that were part of the countywide library system. A number of libraries have reopened on a volunteer-run basis, Lasher said.
Proponents say that would be good news for some of the libraries that have reopened. However, they wonder if they could access the former Douglas County main library branch’s collection at some point to supplement their own smaller holdings.
Bob Bell, president of the Friends of the Winston Library, a nonprofit organization, told the Winston City Council earlier this month that 150,000 books were in the former main branch of the Douglas County Library System in Roseburg. But there was no agreement to circulate them, Bell said, in his update on the Winston library.
The former Douglas County Library main branch on Northeast Diamond Lake Boulevard was one of several libraries closed by the county, following Douglas County voters’ rejection of a ballot measure to create a public library district.