Jackson County commissioners should close some outlying library branches and sell the buildings in order to maintain some level of library service, Medford city officials said Thursday.

"We ask you to consider reducing library costs significantly in order to possibly gain the support of voters for an operating tax rate," the Medford mayor and City Council wrote in a letter to the commissioners.

The county is set to close all 15 branches to the public April 6 to help alleviate a $23 million shortfall created when Congress failed to reauthorize timber subsidies under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act in September. A levy that would have raised $8 million for the library system was rejected by voters in November.

City leaders and citizens throughout the county have been brainstorming potential alternatives to complete closure.

Councilman Al Densmore said it's premature to discuss options until the county has committed itself to maintaining library service. Once the commitment is made, solutions can be found, he said.

"I think this letter is a start," he said during a council meeting Thursday.

Mayor Gary Wheeler said he agreed with Densmore.

"I have a very strong feeling that we need to have a Jackson County library rather than a Medford library," he said.

The letter, dated Jan. 31, did not recommend specific branches for closure. It said council members would "actively support" efforts to pass a tax levy for a reduced library system.