There is more than enough blame to go around Southern Oregon for the library dilemma facing our communities. So, lets go about the real issue and get library service back on track.
This will require a different set of skills than those that caused the closing of the libraries in the first place — and the skills (or lack thereof) that have been displayed to date.
For openers, lets think of our Southern Oregon "public" fabric as "our vineyard." If we will do that, then we have a chance to get competing ideas focused on what is right — rather than being focused on personal views and attitudes.
The analogy of a "vineyard" perspective will help folks of differing viewpoints be willing to seek out rational and workable solutions to this crisis in one of our crucial public services. Think: What would a skilled vineyard manager do to make a vineyard flourish and grow as a healthy enterprise? Therefore, think: What would a skilled "media manager" do to make a Community Library and Information Center grow as a healthy enterprise?
For openers, lets re-think of the enterprise as "CLIC" — and then "Click on the CLIC." That may serve to put clearly into perspective that the buildings we think of as libraries and the personnel as librarians have changed completely and drastically into Information Centers.
That is an accurate, descriptive name for what libraries have become. "Marian the librarian" has become "Sally the source gal," "Sam the media man" and "Clem and clementine the computer mine." This shift in concept, along with understanding, can bring to the fore the realization that all parts of the community are beneficiaries of a healthy "CLIC." It goes far beyond the traditional "Carnegie library" concept of a place to check out books.
All educational establishments, public as well as private, have a stake in a healthy Information Center that is open to everyone as well as to their own enrollees, students and staff. The appropriate share of operational costs, therefore, rightly belongs in their budget structure as it is in the tax-supported public budget.
A proper formula of cost-sharing should go beyond narrow and protective attitudes. There should be no "free lunch" for such identifiable funding sources. This concept is rational, but it likely will be resisted by those who oversee the management of such enterprises.
A similar cost-sharing perspective should be in place to cover other identifiable users. That is not to foster a "user fee" system based upon individual uses, but rather to foster a "group user fee" philosophy.
Any such proposal will meet opposition. Therefore it will require the wisdom of Solomon to fashion a plan with details.
We must not shirk a duty to be willing to face opposition. However, we also must be courageous enough to act decisively. The alternative is to settle for a continuation of the present dilemma. It must end!
Our part of the nation is currently held up to ridicule by folks across the United States who just cannot believe that a community would allow its fine library institutions to be out of business. That is what now prevails: a fine library institution that is out of business. We need to be back in business and be better than ever.
I'm confident we will be able to open the doors again — somehow, sometime. May these ideas be part of the process.
Lets get on with the solution and be willing to bite the bullet that hurts. It is aimed at some part of a pocketbook, purse and billfold of our community members.
Robert Eidsvoog of Medford is a business executive with publishing experience and a long career as a sales executive. He has been involved in development, layout, design and manufacture of library furniture for schools in his own factory along with management of sales of buildings and furnishings for auditoriums, schools, universities and churches on the West Coast.