The system is broken

The libraries have closed. Two levies have been defeated. There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And yet, through all the turmoil, disbelief, and discussion, I had questions and did not hear answers. There is an elephant in the room, our broken system for paying for public services. No one seems to be seeing it.

I support libraries 100%. Many letters were written about the need for libraries, the importance of libraries, how libraries are community centers. All of this is true. I wanted to know - how did we come to the point where our libraries needed to be closed? Why didn't our Commissioners talk about the uncertainty of federal funding a year ago? Why didn't our senators and representatives alert us to the possibility that the funds would not be renewed? Was everyone blind? Libraries used to be funded by a levy. When the levy was rolled into the general fund, what was this money used for? Our taxes didn't go down.

The people who brought the first and second levies to the voters did so with all the good intentions but they didn't answer the questions that needed answering. They didn't address the elephant. Before we have any more knee jerk reactions to our closed libraries, everyone needs to sit back, take a deep breath, and assess the situation calmly.

The Jackson County Library System is a marvelous integrated product. It isn't just buildings with books. I could sit at my home computer and instantly be able to access the entire card catalog. I would know if a book was in the system, if it was immediately available, how long I would have to wait. I would make my selections, designate the pick-up library, and in a few days the books were in. My books could come from any of the 15 libraries, Rogue Community College, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls. This whole operation seemed like magic but actually took a great deal of organization. The computer had to be read constantly; the books had to be collected and delivered. This was only a small part of the entire computer system.

Edith Montgomery

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