Since Measure 10-145 failed at the ballot box, Douglas County Commissioners are forced to look for ways to cover county budget shortfalls with budget cuts. The current plan requires the complete closure of all county funded libraries on April 1, a plan that could increase stress on UCC’s library.
The measure would have raised approximately 4 million dollars a year in additional taxes from land owners in Douglas County to help make up for shortfalls in the county budgets.
“We are anticipating more inquiries about our library services here as a result of pending closures,” Carol McGeehon, the current Library Director at UCC, states. McGeehon worked for almost 35 years for the Douglas County library system before coming to UCC.
The biggest issue for UCC students is community members are legally free to use the library at will. With the closing of the Roseburg Branch, there are concerns from UCC students and library staff alike that there could potentially be a large influx of community members.
“An influx of outsiders could be a great distraction for students here at UCC,” UCC student Rebecca Mapes, states. Rebecca also wonders if an influx did actually occur, would UCC get additional resources and more staff to help accommodate the influx of non-students, since the library is not well equipped?
The concern is being watched carefully as the situation evolves, according to Carol McGeehon.
The UCC library currently has 36 computers that can often be at or near capacity, during peak library use times. And use may be increasing. Tiffany Smith, a computer lab aid for the library here at UCC states, “I’ve seen more people on the computers playing games then I normally would.”
Additional computer labs are on campus, but hours for them change every semester and it is often unclear or unknown to students when they are available to be used.
Carol McGeehon says that cuts for library services have been happening for the past 30 years but it wasn’t until 2008 that major cuts were instituted. Starting in 2008, there was no book budget for the Douglas County library system and any funds for that came from gifts and grants.
County Commissioner Chris Boice explains the reason for the major cuts. “As a result of declining timber receipts and dwindling reserve funds, the board is tasked with making very difficult decisions to ensure that basic public safety needs and other essential services for the community are met.”
State Rep Dallas Heard, who does not have a hand in how the county handles the current budget crisis, is aware of the situation. “They have a really tough job in regards to making decisions for the wellbeing of our community and having to decide where to spend community funds. I think we can all agree that the sheriff’s office and other safety services need to come first,” Heard, states.
In regards to the pending closures of the Douglas County libraries, however, Carol states that she is, “Very sad and disappointed. The library served a lot of the community that doesn’t have access at home.” Representative Dallas Heard states, “Hopefully the community can come up with a creative way of offering computer services in a new and different type venue.”
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners will host a public meeting on April 5th, 2017 at 9am in room 216 of the Douglas County Courthouse to discuss the future of the library system. Currently the plan that came of the Jan 4th meeting, requires the complete closure of all county funded libraries on April 1, 2017. Leaving only the Roseburg branch open with a tentative closing date of May, 30, 2017. The commissioners encourage the public to attend the meeting and help brainstorm solutions.