GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Despite being opened for limited hours every week, the four branches of Josephine Community Libraries are seeing increased membership every month. This fall, voters will decide if more funding will be given to help expand service and hours.
Triple digit temperatures didn’t stop Josephine Community Library card holders from waiting for the doors to open. Reading has been a lifelong passion for Larry Brooks, and minimal hours are something he isn’t used to.
“There is usually a line out here and even any day of the week this library is open,” said Brooks, “When I walked over here and I found they were closed, I know the hours, and it’s just hard for me to accept the fact that it’s not open 6 days.”
The increased use of the four libraries, more than 25,000 card holders combined, has led to a measure on this November’s ballot. The proposed 39 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value would establish a library district, which in turn, would add staff and expand hours.
“There are so many people and our hours are so condensed into a small period at this point. So, with the passage of a library district, we will be able to expand our hours so that it’s more comfortable for everyone here in the library,” said Josephine Community Libraries Operations Manager Norma Singer.
If the move is defeated, the libraries won’t close entirely, but cuts could be on the way.
“The potential of cutting services, maybe drastically cutting services. There is only so much we can do with the funding that we receive now,” said Singer
The decision will come in a county, no stranger to voting down levies. Brooks said it may be a tough sell, but is something he thinks is needed for all.
“I do think that, for assessed value, that the voters are going to pinch pennies on it, but I do believe it’s necessary,” said Brooks
If approved, the library district would not be associated with the county and would be under control of an independently elected board also on this November’s ballot.