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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow GROUP STUDYING COUNTY LIBRARY DISTRICT PLANS SURVEY

GROUP STUDYING COUNTY LIBRARY DISTRICT PLANS SURVEY

A county library study committee has peered into its crystal ball and sees a county library district, funded by property tax dollars, in the future.

The committee, headed by Jerry Young, has by no means finished its research and discussion, but earlier this year, members decided to pursue the steps necessary to form a countywide central library district.

Many details remain to be settled, Young said recently, but the committee has nearly two years to iron them out.

The committee hopes to set a library district election for May 2004.

"As we see it now, the library could cost about 70 cents per $1,000 dollars of real property, but that's a ballpark figure," Young said.

Before the committee begins the work needed to put an issue on the ballot, it will survey the county to find out what people want and need in a library system.

The Libraries of Eastern Oregon has provided a $5,000 grant to do the survey, but Young said the committee has not yet hired a researcher.

Under the plan, the district would have a five-member board of directors, ideally appointed from the communities with libraries. The board would set policy and employ a central librarian to take care of the day-to-day operation under the plan.

Young said he sees no change in any library personnel. As it is envisioned, the district would leave staff in place, but would also "look for expertise in reference, technical, other skills."

"Children's library services are a major concern," he said.

As Young sees the future, the libraries would have a central purchasing system and a central catalog, a cost-savings organization.

"We're not anticipating any big problems phasing it in," Young said. "No one has raised any large issues."

Location of the central library has not yet been decided, but Young said it would be reasonable to put it in the La Grande Library building.

The location is one of many operating issues that need to be determined.

"More people use the La Grande Library than all the other libraries put together," Young said. "With a new building, there would be space to store and a loading dock."

Young admitted that under the central library plan, the libraries would lose some autonomy. "That's a concern," he said. "Libraries say, ‘We give up local control. What do we get in return?' They get increased hours, access to more programs, more professional services. That's a trade-off."

Young said he believes that a central library system would be a selling point for economic development.

"If you want industry — they know that the local library has the technical services, reference services, children's services — that's an important part of why industry would locate in a place."

— Alice Perry Linker

 
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