Library doors will be open longer across county
Jackson County's 15 branches will keep their doors open an extra 58 hours a week starting Jan. 2.
Jackson County Library Services reported the bump in hours will bring the total of weekly library operating hours from 310 to 368, or a bump of about 19 percent in total hours.
"Library hours have not changed appreciably since the reopening in 2007, and what we heard the most from patrons is, 'More hours, please,'" Jackson County library district board member Maureen Swift said in a prepared statement.
The ability to increase the hours was created in May, when about 55 percent of county voters supported the creation of a library district. That came with the ability to levy up to 60 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value and raise $9 million annually. The library was previously funded through Jackson County's general fund, but county commissioners said the county would no longer be able to shoulder that burden.
While local voters in 2000 approved nearly $39 million in bonds to build and remodel libraries across the county, later reductions in county support and a failed levy resulted in the closure of the libraries for six months in 2007.
The cost to increase the hours in 2015 is estimated to cost about $284,000, and more adjustments could be coming down the line, library officials said.
"This is sort of a minimal adjustment in a short period of time," said library director Kim Wolfe.
The Medford and Central Point branches will receive close to half the total allotment, receiving 16 and 12 new hours, respectively. That will bump Medford's hours to 40 per week and Central Point's to 36 weekly.
The Phoenix branch will add six. Applegate, Eagle Point, Jacksonville, and Prospect branches will add four. Butte Falls, Gold Hill, Ruch, and Shady Cove will add two hours. Ashland, Rogue River, Talent and White City will add none, though some current open hours have been shifted to different time stretches, depending on community needs, library officials said. Ashland was already open 40 hours per week due to additional funding provided by the city. The district board has previously said it would absorb the expense now covered by the city.
"We've been getting feedback for the last seven years at all branches," Wolfe said, adding hour adjustments were based on circulation records, individual library patronage and community feedback. "We tried to just balance it out."
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