Now it sounds like closing all 15 branches of the Jackson County libraries is the next step — with a maintenance fee of $600,000-plus per year.

How about another idea that makes even more sense:

We've dealt with reduced hours at the libraries for years. Can hours be trimmed again to help keep the lights on? Couple that with a subscription fee.

In southern Washington, library users pay a nominal fee each month, a subscription fee, to utilize their libraries.

If you break down all that our family gets from the library each month and put it into monetary terms, a nominal fee of $10 per card holder or $20 per family sounds awfully cheap.

Say an average of $150 per year times 50,000 patrons. That's $7.5 million.

Justify it like this: Our family borrows 96 DVDs, 84 books, 108 magazines and 60 audiobooks per year.

If you add up real values for just these services that the libraries offer, that's $2,340 for the year. A library subscription fee is a much better idea.

We would much rather spend a little than to have it all taken away.

Please sign us up for the family plan! — John, Serena and Will Jackson, Medford

With so much hand-wringing about our libraries, I need to resurrect a little history.

I was extremely active before and during the planning of our elaborate system. At the board meeting, I proposed combining the Phoenix and Talent operations. I was just about laughed out of the meeting room.

At the next board meeting, I again proposed combining several of the branches throughout Jackson County. Again, the same reaction.

I tried to explain that with 15 branches we would have one of the most elegant library systems in the state if not the entire country. I explained not only the construction costs but the future operational costs. Not a soul would listen.

It's not too late. I propose the following: Talent should be folded in with Ashland; Phoenix and Central Point become a part of Medford; Applegate, Ruch, Rogue River and Gold Hill merge with Jacksonville; and Eagle Point, Butte Falls, Shady Cove and Prospect combine in White City. This would reduce our system from 15 branches to four.

Listen, we simply cannot afford the current system! This should be considered a permanent decision and the buildings and land sold with the proceeds applied to the operating costs. — Skip Senften, Medford

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