RCC won't lose access when libraries close

When the Jackson County libraries close in April, Rogue Community College students still will have access to the reference collection and computer labs that the community college leases in the Central Library.

"Students and the public need to know that continued use of the library is an integral part of RCC's accreditation," said Galyn Carlile, executive dean of the college's Riverside campus.

Since RCC came to downtown Medford after a 1996 annexation to add Jackson County to its district, it has planned to operate its Medford campus library in partnership with the county's downtown library.

"We worked all along to plan so that if any one of us had to leave the arrangement, the other could go on," he explained.

School and county officials met last week to sort out some of the details of continuing to provide student library access that accreditation agencies require.

RCC pays an annual rent — currently about $86,000 a year — to use 1,200 square feet of the Central Library's upper level, including the reference section and two computer labs set aside exclusively for college use, Library Director Ronnie Budge said.

"That will allow them to continue use while the library is closed," she said.

When the library closes to the public April 6, the massive bronze doors to the general stacks, including fiction, nonfiction and the children's library, on the ground will be closed, securing that area, officials said. Likely, someone will be posted at the main entrance to check for RCC identification and let students and faculty members in to use the college's area upstairs.

RCC's head librarian, Lynda Kettler, expects to continue serving students as usual. The college's library service employs 14 people in clerical and professional librarian jobs, most of which are part time. They keep the RCC reference desk open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, with one reference librarian and one clerical assistant always on duty. Student workers usually staff the computer labs.

Kettler noted that the college library and the public portion keep different hours anyway, so the building now is sometimes open to students while closed to others.

Still, RCC officials hope the closure is short-lived.

"We need to have the library open. We are counting on this being temporary," Carlile said of the pending closure.

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