Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Hundreds of residents in this Oregon county rallied together to keep their libraries open

The public libraries in Douglas County, Oregon, should be closed, but dedicated volunteers are ensuring that they keep their doors open.

This is a logging area, and due to dwindling federal timber revenues, the county asked voters last year to approve a small tax initiative that would have funded the libraries. It didn't pass, and branches slowly started to close. Book lovers of all ages brainstormed ways to keep the libraries open, and they decided to volunteer their time and skills in any way possible — some are there to check books in and out, and others are updating branch websites. "It's very heartening to see so many people turn out to preserve something that is so very good for this community," volunteer and author Robert Leo Heilman told The Oregonian.

Nine of the 11 closed libraries are back open, thanks to these volunteers, donations, and fundraisers. In Riddle, the mayor decided in June 2017 the city could pay for the library's utilities and building maintenance, but volunteers are covering everything else. After briefly using index cards and a ledger to check out books, a local resident with IT knowledge installed new computer software so it can be done electronically. There are 38 volunteers at the Riddle library, and it's open for three days a week for a total of 15 hours.