Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jackson County libraries: Supporters pack hearing

Library card for Jackson County Library Services. Silhouette of hiker against wooded mountain background bearing caption "Explore"For KOBI NBC 5, anchor Christine Pitawanich reported that people “packed into” a public hearing on Wednesday to support the 15 branch libraries of Jackson County Library Services.

The purpose of the hearing was to discuss ideas for keeping the libraries open. Creating a library tax district was among ideas proposed.

In the words of supporter Michelle Blum Atkinson, “By doing a district for the library, people would know that this money is definitely going to go to the library.”

That was my concern about a utility surcharge proposed as a solution to the threat of library closures: the money would go to the Jackson County jail, supposedly freeing general funds. But who’s to say that as priorities shifted, there would be a steady guarantee of funding for Jackson County libraries?

As cited in Pitawanich’s report, the libraries cost $4.2 million each year in county general funds; the total cost to run the 15-library system is $5 million annually.

I would gladly pay a surcharge or support a special tax if the money was guaranteed for our libraries.

According to parent Michael Morgan, filmed during library storytime, the library is “really the foundation for the entire educational system,” and JCLS “is really a crown jewel for this entire valley.”

As before, library advocates can communicate their support in writing. Jackson County Commissioners Doug Breidenthal, John Rachor and Don Skundrick can be reached via email at, and

Letters to the editor can be submitted to the Ashland Daily Tidings,, and to the Mail Tribune,

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