July 04, 2001 11:00 pm

The announcement last week that 68 Eastern Oregon libraries will soon be a keystroke away shows that with a little resolve great things can be accomplished.

In this case of the new Pioneer Library System, it will mean that people living in Eastern Oregon will be able to borrow a book from any of the participating libraries either via e-mail or in person.

So if 68 librarians, including the one from Eastern Oregon University and the one from La Grande Public Library, can work together in this capacity, why cant they work together to build a joint university/city library?

Even though a group met over a year ago to discuss the idea and report back the input to the La Grande City Council, it was clear from the beginning of those discussions that several attending those meetings were already set against a combined library approach.

So how can they now sit back and allow a regional library system that includes schools, community college, university and public libraries?

If anything could go wrong, it should have with this consortium. Public and state university systems are crossing over to accomplish the task.

Instead of purchasing the soon-to-be-vacated Safeway building, the city should instead be getting together with the university and discussing how to create a new university/community library. Land is available on the edges of the university property. There are those within the community who would be willing to help work on the idea.

And building a new library is on the radar of university President Phil Creighton. A new library is a definite need once the new science building funding is secure. A collaborative approach makes sense. Sharing building space, but not book space, makes sense. A building could be developed that would have the feel of two different libraries under one roof.

Leadership means learning to work outside the box. Leaders look into the future, as far ahead as 50 years from now.

We need leaders to step forward and grab hold of the vision of those 68 participants of the new Pioneer Library System. Who will step forward to lead the way?

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