ROGUE RIVER — Tina Ferris intently watched her daughter participate in a storytime reading in the parking lot of the Rogue River Library on Sunday.
Ferris and other local residents came for a "Library Fest" on Sunday to show support for this branch and the 14 others in Jackson County that closed on April 6 due to budget problems.
Despite her support for libraries, the 41-year-old Rogue River resident said she hasn't made up her mind yet about the May 15 levy that she said will be a financial hit for her family that already pays $200 a month on property taxes and insurance.
"I'm leaning toward yes," she said. "For a family on a tight budget, it's hard on us."
Voters will decide on Measure 15-75, which would raise $8.3 million annually by adding 66 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation and would be used to open the 15 branches.
Ferris, who misses the storytime readings at the library, said she feels confused, unable to trust government and concerned about whether the levy money will actually go toward libraries and whether it will be mismanaged.
On the other hand, she said, "I think they're a resource that's not expendable."
Kim Ridpath, of Wimer, said that despite her concern that property owners get saddled with all the taxes, she will vote for the levy.
"It's not a huge tax compared to what we get," said Ridpath.
She said she recently went to Walden Books so she could find reading materials for her two children and herself and spent $80.
She said her 5-year-old son, Blake, used to go to the library to work on projects. Blake and his brother, 8-year-old Brandon, also learned how to use computers at the library, she said.
Ridpath said she once looked for information about pyramids in Egypt, but couldn't find what she needed on the Internet. She said she found the information she wanted from checking out three books at the library.
Despite voters' feelings about the library levy, Rogue River residents still enjoyed the sunshine Sunday and watched the juggling, giant chess, music and face painting. Authors Jayel Gibson and Sharon Heisel also gave readings.
Beverly Fety, who is a former children services librarian in Rogue River, held a storytime reading every 15 minutes, ringing a bell for the children who joined her in a tent.
When she first proposed the outdoor storytime, she remembers it dawned on her the books were locked inside the library. "I said 'Oh no, the books are in there,' " she said. "So I had to raid our kids' book shelves."
Mary Ann Ross, former branch supervisor, said she has heard many people's complaints, from questions about the size of the building to concerns about how the levy money will be spent.
"The rumors I am hearing are disheartening — they're just wrong," she said.
Ross said people need to realize that libraries are an essential part of any community.
"As a property owner, I expect to pay for a thing that makes this community a good place to live," she said.
Dozens of children ran from event to event in the parking lot, gobbling up cookies and lemonade.
Robin Collings, 12, of Wimer, said, "I don't like the library being closed. I love the libraries."
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.