After 35 years as a librarian in Hood River, June Knudson is out of a job. On July 1, all branches of the Hood River County public library system shut their doors after voters defeated a funding measure. A lifetime book lover who as a child found libraries “a wonderful way to enlarge my world,” Knudson says that the library’s role in her community went well beyond books. From storytime for toddlers to ESL classes for adults (as well as free Internet and community meeting spaces), the county’s public libraries provided a host of resources not easily accessible elsewhere. With the building’s closure, families, job seekers, and library patrons of all stripes are acutely feeling the loss of a community institution.
The scene in Troutdale, by contrast, is celebratory. On Monday, the city’s new library opened to much fanfare, and residents flocked to the converted shopping center space to check out its well-stocked shelves and state-of-the-art technology. The head librarian, Bryan Fearn, hopes that in short order the library will become a bustling community center.
Multnomah County Commissioners are considering a ballot measure to create a special library tax district that would provide a more steady source of funding for libraries and enable more success stories like Troutdale.
What’s the role of the public library in your community? How do you use your local library? Have you seen services or programs be cut?