Eagle Point wants its library back

Interested residents meet tonight to discuss ways to reopen the library
Girl scouts from troop 2690 prepare to fold the flag after it was lowered at the closing of the Eagle Point Library Friday. Jim Craven 4/6/2007Mail Tribune / Jim Craven

EAGLE POINT — Friends of the Library has sought professional help to organize a discussion about raising funds to reopen their library, one of the 15 branches in Jackson County that closed April 6 because of budget cuts.

Susan Huntley, an Eagle Point resident, and her marketing firm Huntley and Associates, is gathering information on what citizens want in a library and how to raise the money to reopen the doors.

"We need to get people mobilized and speaking with one voice," Huntley said. "We need to decide as a community what we want and then take that to the commissioners."

Eagle Point residents will meet at 7 tonight at the Ashpole Community Center, 17 Buchanan St.

Huntley said she's not interested in providing minimal services at the library.

"I think people want a different library than what we've had," she said. "Rather than taking the low road and scraping together the minimal amount to get them open, what do we as a community want it to look like?"

Answers to those questions should be clearer after tonight's meeting, giving Huntley and Eagle Point Friends of the Library a greater understanding of the community's ultimate goal.

The meeting is partly a response to pleas from Jackson County officials asking communities for help in reopening libraries after the loss of $23 million annually from the federal Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act.

Pat Ashley, of Eagle Point Friends of the Library, said volunteers played a major role in the operation of the library before it closed. She said she expects them to remain a pivotal part of the library's operation once it's reopened.

"Hopefully we would even be able to expand on our number of volunteers," Ashley said. "People are now much more aware of how much they need the libraries."

While the Eagle Point library has been closed, children have been able to participate in activities put on by Friends of the Library. On Thursdays at 10 a.m. the organization holds storytime and a book exchange in front of the library.

Jackson County School District 9 has opened the doors to all of its school libraries once a week since July 11 for children to check out books.

"We have done our best," Ashley said. "It's been kind of a sad 'best,' but we've tried. Storytime has been enormously well attended and the book exchange has gone well."

To make a long-term impact, Huntley said citizens in Eagle Point and all of Jackson County need to work together.

"It's a complex issue and a lot of people are voicing their opinions to each other," Huntley said. "This is about getting them organized and working together."

Reach intern Bob Albrecht at 776-8791 or e-mail intern1@mailtribune.com.

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