Jackson County residents will get a chance to meet the new operators of the library system Thursday at the Medford branch.
Officials from Maryland-based Library Services and Systems LLC, known as LSSI, will give a presentation at 9 a.m. and will take questions until 10 a.m.
The public meeting will be held at 205 S. Central Ave. in the community meeting room. Refreshments will be served at 8:30 a.m.
"I think it will be exciting for people to walk into the library," said Susan Huntley, spokesperson for the Coalition for Libraries' Future, which was formerly the United Friends of the Library.
Huntley, whose organization is sponsoring the event, said there have been lots of questions about LSSI and this will give residents a chance to meet representatives of the company.
She said it has been a difficult time as residents get used to the idea of outsourcing library services.
"I think change is always hard for people," she said.
The county's contract with LSSI is $3,048,948 for the first year of the agreement, but because the contract starts on Oct. 1 — three months into the budget year — the county will pay 75 percent, or $2,286,711. For fiscal year 2008-09, the LSSI contract is $3,140,416. Another $1.3 million will be spent by the county annually for utilities, facility maintenance, landscaping, telephones, custodial services and the computer system known as SOLIS.
The total amount to run the library system is about half what it was previously, although the libraries will have reduced hours.
Huntley said the county has only enough money to run the library system for about three years.
"This is a temporary fix," she said. "We're looking at how we can create a long-term funding solution."
LSSI expects to open all 15 branches by the first week in November at the latest.
They've already hired about 40 employees, many of them former county library workers laid off when the branches were closed April 6 after the federal government failed to renew an annual $23 million timber payment program known as the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.