Looking forward to 2015

KateLaskyHeadshotIt’s with no regrets that we say goodbye to 2014. In spite of the failure of a library district measure to permanently fund our library system on the November ballot, there are many reasons to celebrate.

For one, the Yellow Envelope Drive marks the best fundraising drive in the history of Josephine Community Libraries. In just six weeks, our community raised $180,000 to keep the libraries open in Grants Pass, Williams, Wolf Creek, and the Illinois Valley, with $46,200 contributed from 376 yellow envelopes. This outpouring is a tangible demonstration of the community’s support of its libraries. Thank you to everyone who sent in a donation.

January is a special month for Josephine Community Libraries. On January 19 we celebrate our sixth birthday. On this day in 2009, citizens reopened the libraries after countywide closure for a year and a half. And, thanks to the heroic volunteers who have worked an average of 500 hours a week since then, our libraries remain open and operating. Every day when I enter the building at the Grants Pass branch, volunteers have already arrived to vacuum the floors, clean the bathrooms, shelve the books, and make the building ready for the arrival of the day’s patrons (and so much more). I’m in awe of the dedication of these individuals, and continuously inspired to do my part to ensure our community has a library for many years to come.

From the 2014 Summer Reading Program serving more than 800 children to technology upgrades at all four branch libraries, the year was chock-full for literacy, learning, and growth in service. Consistently, throughout the year more than 300 new folks came into the libraries each month to sign up for a library card — demonstrating once again how vital our libraries are to the people who live here. On any given day, 10,000 items (books, CDs, DVDs) are out of the library, circulating, and in the homes of people in Josephine County.

For now, the library will continue to operate as a nonprofit nongovernmental organization relying on donations and grants to keep the doors open. My hope is that the more than 15,000 people who voted yes for the library taxing district last year will provide critically needed support and donate what they would have paid in taxes if the measure had passed. If you haven’t yet sent in your contribution, please consider making a donation any time of year. With your help, and the help of everyone who cares about our community, we can make 2015 an even better year.

Kate Lasky has been the executive director of Josephine Community Libraries, Inc. since 2010. She holds a master’s in education and serves on the Oregon Library Association Legislative and Development Committee.