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Jackson County Libraries Face Closure

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Nearly all of the libraries in Jackson County could close by next year if officials cannot find additional funding. A poll of a potential surcharge that could have freed up funds to help the library showed opposition to the plan.

Two year old Finn and his mother spent Wednesday at the Medford Library, and he couldn’t resist the batman book.

“They have different children’s programs, so we signed up for readers in the library this summer and we’ll read 10 books,” Finn’s mother, Moira McKenna, said. “It’s great exposure to not just reading in general, but other kids.”

But county libraries may need a superhero to save them from the county budget shortfall. A survey by Jackson County commissioners showed a majority of respondents were against a county surcharge, which could have helped pay for departments like the library.

The library director says if no funding is found by next year, 14 libraries would close, and all the department’s plans would be shelved. Only the Medford Library would stay open past next year, and it could close by 2015 without funding.

“It would be a big loss, especially in some of the outlining communities,” Maureen Swift with Friends of the Medford Library said.

The Friends of the Library say losing those resources would have a big impact on education, and the public would lose a valuable source of information.

“You can’t read and write well, even if you don’t read,” Swift explains. “Even if you’re not a library user, you should be a library supporter, it is an economic benefit to the area.”

And families that use the library say they hope to read a different ending to the budget crisis.

“They’re just a solid foundation and source of knowledge and information,” McKenna added.

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