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Vandalism At Josephine County Library Shows Erosion Of Social Contract


A non-profit organization has operated the Josephine Community Libraries system since county tax revenues declined 10 years ago.

A non-profit organization has operated the Josephine Community Libraries system since county tax revenues declined 10 years ago.

Pink Badger/AP File

Update April 3, 2016: Since this story ran in February, the Josephine County library system raised more than $11,000 to help pay for the vandalism. The Oregon State Library, the Washington County Cooperative Library Services, and others from far and wide helped raise the money. You can read more about it on the Josephine Community Libraries’ website.

Original story: On the morning of Feb. 23, vandals ransacked and robbed the Illinois Valley branch of the Josephine Community Libraries. It was one of several recent acts of vandalism in the area. Vandals cut power and telephone lines, stole computer equipment and threw toys from the children’s area of the library onto the lawn. 

While the library’s name suggests the county runs it, the Josephine Community Libraries system is a private non-profit staffed by volunteers. Taxpayers stopped paying for the library system after revenue declined a decade ago.  

Meanwhile, there was uncertainty whether the Josephine County Sheriff’s department would even be able to investigate the property crime due to money concerns.  The library has started a fundraiser to cover insurance costs for the vandalism.

Jennifer Roberts helped found the private library system and sat on the board. She joined OPB from Josephine County.  

Listen to her story in this week’s Sunday Conversation with OPB Weekend Edition host John Sepulvado.

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