May 24, 2001 11:00 pm

A piece of legislation that would give rural libraries a major boost into the Information Age has been tucked away on a bookshelf in the 2001 Legislature for the past several months.

Sponsored by Sen. David Nelson, R-Pendleton, and Rep. Mark Simmons, R-Elgin, among others, Senate Bill 202 would establish Connect Oregon (CORE), tying all of Oregons community, school, college and university libraries together.

The legislation would provide library resources to residents of all communities in Oregon, including smaller ones like Cove, Joseph and Troy. Patty Cutright, director of Pierce Library at Eastern Oregon University, has been a key leader in getting Connect Oregon into the hands of legislators.

Among its goals, SB 202 and CORE would provide to libraries:

Universal access to reference and research materials through full-text electronic information and indexes.

Web-based assistance to help people use CORE resources.

Information to help users gain access to printed materials available throughout Oregon.

Funding for a courier system to aid the sharing of library materials statewide.

SB 202 was given a do pass recommendation by the Senate Information Management and Technology Committee in February. It moved on to the Ways and Means Committee to see if $2.7 million could be found to fund CORE. The Legislature is now debating how to carve up the states expected revenue. SB 202 is hiding out, waiting for daylight.

The idea of connecting all of Oregons libraries large and small through a computer network makes sense. Several other states, including Idaho and California, are already pursuing projects similar to CORE.

The states tight revenue picture might not allow full implementation of Connect Oregon in the next biennium. The Legislature should approve some dollars, however, to jumpstart the program to begin to open up library resources to all Oregon residents.

Act wisely, safely

Oregons first major holiday weekend of the summer is beginning today. Its a time to kick back, relax and enjoy family and friends and the observance of Memorial Day.

Its not a time to race from one place to another by car or truck, or make dumb decisions in boats or other water craft. Motorists should make sure they and their passengers are safely secured in safety belts whenever their vehicle is on the road. Parents should not leave the life vests at home when planning to take the kids out on the water.

Dont mix alcohol with driving. Be sensible and safe to make sure this Memorial Day weekend does not end up with bad memories.