Everyone’s story

Libraries are about stories.

Libraries are about the stories of the past: history, myths, and legends. A record of where we’ve been.

But libraries are also about the stories of the future: innovation, invention, and advancement. A promise of where we’re going.

The story of Josephine Community Libraries is one of resiliency, courage, and generosity, and everyone in Josephine County can count themselves a part of our library’s heroic story.

Here are some stories from our branch libraries:

At the Illinois Valley branch, a six-year-old girl and her grandmother came to the library for their weekly visit. While exploring the non-fiction section in the children’s reading room, the young girl found a large chemistry book which her grandmother insisted was too big for her to take home. When the girl came to the circulation desk to check out her newfound treasures she said, “My grandmother doesn’t understand—I need this book because I’m going to be a scientist!”

At the Williams branch, a patron called from her workplace across the street from the library and said she really needed a tax form printed, but could not come in until after hours. Since the library was going to be closed for the next couple days, the branch manager took the form to her after closing. The patron was so moved by the library’s service she made a donation. 

At the Wolf Creek branch, a senior citizen pulled the Wolf Creek branch manager aside to explain that he is on a fixed income and receives federal assistance, but the government had changed how they processed his claim every month and now required a bank balance. He needed to access his bank statement online but he didn’t have a computer at home. The branch manager showed him how to access his bank account and print a bank statement. Now, he visits the library every month to print a copy. He told the branch manager that he voted for the library measure in 2014 because “libraries are important for everyone.”

numbersAt the Grants Pass branch, a woman who recently moved to the community visited the library to get her library card. As she chatted with the Welcome Desk volunteer, she mentioned that one of the things that most attracted to her to Grants Pass was the story of our libraries. Moving to a community without a library would not have been an option for her. But after learning about the grassroots effort to reopen the libraries and our community’s ability to keep them operating thanks to hundreds of volunteers and community donations, she was so impressed she made the decision to relocate to Grants Pass.

Over the past seven years Josephine Community Libraries has overcome incredible odds. In that time, our community has volunteered more than 200,000 hours to keep the libraries open with no regular tax support. When we lost the 2014 election for a library district, we stayed open and renovated our children’s libraries in the Illinois Valley and Grants Pass. We’ve kept our heads held high and continued to serve, no matter what!

This past fall we hosted Fine Amnesty, an Oregon Beer and Hops program, Readapalooza, Middle School Mayhem, Sensational Storytime and Day of the Dead celebration, LEGO Robotics train-the-trainer and e-book workshops, National Novel Writing Month write-ins, and Banned Books Week. Every one of these programs had one thing in common—you. You are why we exist, and who we serve.

alistairIn the coming weeks, our libraries are hosting several programs for all ages. For adults looking to engage in civil dialogue about important issues, we’ve scheduled two Oregon Humanities Conversation Projects at the Grants Pass branch. The first is called “This Place” to consider how communities have lost or gained land and power throughout history, scheduled for Saturday, November 19 from 10 to 11:30 am. The other is about recipes and community building, called “Stone Soup” based on the timeless fable of the same name, scheduled for Saturday, December 3 from 10 to 11:30 am. For the youngest members of our community, we offer a variety of storytimes, including our reading to dogs program and Young Master Gardeners. Click here for more information about our branch library storytimes.

Right now we are in the throes of our most important fundraiser of the year—the Yellow Envelope Drive. Please join neighbors and community members as we come together to keep our libraries open by donating whatever you can before December 31 and help raise the $175,000 needed to continue our story.

With your support, Josephine Community Libraries can continue to be an active, vital part of Josephine County, keeping our community connected and competitive.

Thank you for your support, and see you at the library!

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. In 2015, she was honored by the Oregon Library Association with the Ole award which annually recognizes an Oregon public library employee who has displayed exceptional effort and excellence.