Books for Kids program tries to fill library gap

The community-based program provides books for children to borrow at the Santo Community Center
Kathy Hathaway of Jackson County Republican Women is setting up Books for Kids in west Medfordís Santo Community Center.Bob Pennell

MEDFORD — In response to the closure of Jackson County's libraries, a Medford woman has organized a community book-sharing project called Books for Kids.

Kathy Hathaway of the Jackson County Republican Women has begun a book exchange at the Santo Community Center to help provide books for toddlers through eighth-graders.

Jacksonville Presbyterian Church is sponsoring a Children's Community Lending Library starting today.

The library has more than 1,000 children's books of all types and is growing, organizers say. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays all summer. The address is 425 Middle St., Jacksonville. For more info, call 899-1287.

The books will be available from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Parks staff will be in the building during the weekday hours and volunteers will be on hand on Saturdays. Parents and caregivers can bring their children to borrow or trade a book or two at no charge. Borrowing a book will be on the honor system — there will be no checking books out, said Hathaway.

"We're hoping they'll bring them back. We're hoping that they will honor the spirit of the project," she said.

Sue McKenna, Medford Parks and Recreation supervisor, said she thinks it's a "great idea."

"It's actually something we wanted to get started," she said. "It's a perfect fit at a perfect time."

McKenna said there's nothing to restrict use to Medford residents only.

"If they come from all over, they come from all over," she said.

Hathaway said she came up with the idea because when she had been a single mother, she could not afford to buy enough books to keep up with her daughter's reading needs and depended on libraries.

The program will be offered in conjunction with the Storytelling Guild, which has been hosting storytime for preschoolers at the Santo Community Center 10:30 to 11 a.m. every Thursday since April. Guild members used to tell stories in the Jackson County libraries, which closed April 6 because of a $23 million shortfall in the county budget.

Hathaway said the Books for Kids program has several dozen books, but anticipates many more being donated. The book shelves being used were formerly used in Medford's old Carnegie library building.

Hathaway said there are also a few adult books in their collection.

"We'll take anything," she said. "Our goal is to fill up the room with books."

Book drop off locations include Grilla Bites at 226 E. Main St.; Great Harvest Bread Company at 310 Genessee St.; and the five Island Juice Stores at 1390 Biddle Rd., 2382 W. Main St., 3613 Aviation Way, 1325 Center Dr. and 4149 South Pacific Highway.

To sign up to volunteer Saturdays, contact Coralie Ayers, 857-6499.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

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