All of the public libraries in Jackson County, Oregon are closed. And yesterday, by a margin of about 10,000 votes, the citizens voted to keep them closed.

Every place I’ve ever lived - with the exception of a year in North Africa - had libraries, and just as important as getting the electricity turned on was getting my library card. It told me I was a resident, that I was now officially home. Apparently, too many people in Jackson County felt either they couldn’t afford the extra taxes or there should be a different approach to raising the money, money that used to come from the federal government.

But meanwhile the kids growing up in Jackson County have no library. And all those books sit behind locked doors.

It just stuns me that a majority of voters in such a large community would believe that libraries are one public expense too many, or that they should vent their anger at the government by closing libraries. And it stuns me that the largest closing of public libraries in US history has got so little attention.

Salinas had a marathon of celebrities speaking up for its library. Jackson County had a hard-working, dedicated group trying to turn things around. But so far as I know, not one movie star showed up to help.

I'm very sad.

(Cross-posted from my other place)

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Comment by Andrea Campbell on May 18, 2007 at 5:56pm
Ye Gods, this makes me ill. I keep telling my husband we are reliving the fall of the Roman Empire right here in America. If culture goes, where are people to learn the graces? If reading and exploring the new worlds that books provide is gone, where will people find their imaginations?
Comment by Barbara Fister on May 18, 2007 at 10:37am
Not kidding, Todd! though I wish I were.

You know, I get the impression that there was a lot going on that divided the community - including some kind of dissatisfaction with the library's leadership. Fwiw, the county residents had voted for a school levy not too long ago, so it's not a totally kneejerk "no new taxes" issue.

But it still blows my mind. There are 11 libraries there, and all the doors are locked. No interlibrary loan, no nothing.

I wouldn't move there.
Comment by Todd Robinson on May 17, 2007 at 9:56pm
You've GOT to be #&*@ ing kidding me. What's next? If next winter is cold, will they use the stock as kindling?

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