When I was first hired as the executive director in 2010, I felt like a jet plane had just landed in my lap. The story in the local paper read, “New executive director … hired with $177,319 deficit.” It was.
My first thought was “How am I going to raise enough money for this library with no regular funding from taxes?” That’s when I learned something important — no one works at our library and everyone has a stake in its success.
Last month, the Josephine Community Libraries Board of Directors distributed a survey to donors, volunteers, staff, and patrons as part of their strategic planning process following the loss of the library district measure in November 2014. I was pleased to learn that 1,152 folks participated (thank you to all those who took the time).
Through the survey, donors, volunteers, and patrons reported the most important service the library offers is the (even in the .) After that, computer use and children’s programs rated in the top three, with the use of study rooms and adult programming rating lowest. Across the board, survey respondents rated volunteer and staff as highest in quality. They cited the greatest need as increased hours, a more modernized collection of books, and improved facilities. Donors said they plan to continue to support the library annually and volunteers said they’re willing to keep working. Staff members reported a high rate and strong sense of reward in the work they do.
The individuals who took the survey represent the larger group of people who make libraries possible in Josephine County. These folks — donors, volunteers, staff, and patrons — ARE the library, and they are building our community every day as they work. It starts with 398 volunteers who work about 500 hours a week for free. Then, donors support their work with financial contributions to keep the lights on, the doors open, and the books circulating. After that, a small but dedicated staff administers grants, trains volunteers on library technology, and coordinates the efforts at the four branches in Grants Pass, Williams, Wolf Creek, and the Illinois Valley. Finally, about 29,000 library cardholders with families and children attend programs, use computers, and read. (The reading is the best part.)
I, for one, am fortunate to work with these remarkable people every day. This library, these people, and the work they do, are nothing short of a miracle. They are the reason I believe we can rebuild our libraries and our public services in Josephine County. They are the reason I will
Be a part of the library in 2015. Click here to make a secure online donation during the Spring Fundraising Drive or mail a check payable to “Josephine Community Libraries, Inc.” P.O. Box 1684, Grants Pass, OR 97526.
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. In April this year, she was honored by the with the Ole award which annually recognizes an Oregon public library employee who has displayed exceptional effort and excellence.