Medford looks at library options

The Medford City Council will explore options for opening the doors of the Central Library to the public.

The council on Thursday requested a breakdown of costs to run just the Medford branch after Jackson County voters rejected a three-year, $8.3 million levy to reopen all 15 branches.

The libraries closed April 6 to alleviate a $23 million shortfall created when Congress failed to renew timber payments to rural counties impacted by cutbacks in federal logging.

Councilman Al Densmore said Friday he believes voters were rejecting the levy as proposed, not libraries. He said it was time for a discussion with all parties, including the education community.

"I think we ought to get all the stakeholders together," he said.

Interim Library Director Ted Stark said there's no definitive plan B to save libraries.

"There's a lot of things bouncing around," he said. A citizens group meeting on county budget cuts is expected to come forward with a recommendation in June, he said.

Mayor Gary Wheeler said it's a tricky business for the city to fund operations of county books and buildings.

"What we need to do is have assurances from the county that we have control," he said.

Wheeler said the countywide library system would not be resurrected for some time. But he believes Medford residents want the Central Library opened to the public.

"I really and truly feel that people are not anti-library, they're anti-property tax," he said.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

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