ALA president releases statement on looming closures of libraries in Jackson County,Oregon

Contact: Macey Morales

Media Relations Manager

For Immediate Release

March 23, 2007

ALA president releases statement on looming closures of libraries in Jackson County, Ore.

CHICAGO - The U.S. Congress failed to renew the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Act, which ended in September of 2006, and provided a $400 million annual subsidy to 41 states. The cut in federal funding has left 15 libraries serving Jackson County, Ore., with a $7 million deficit- nearly 80 percent of the system's budget. American Library Association (ALA) President Leslie Burger released the following statement regarding the looming closure of Jackson County's libraries.

"I understand that the loss of federal funding has placed Jackson County in a very difficult position, but closing its libraries on April 7 is not the answer. Libraries are so much more than bricks and mortar. They are places where everyone - regardless of age, race or income - can come together, whether it's for entertainment, self-help or to find their place in the community.

"Free access to the books, ideas, and information in America's libraries is imperative for all in our nation who desire a better quality of life. Last year alone there were more than 1.4 million items checked out from Jackson County libraries. The libraries receive more than 3,000 visits per day from community members who take advantage of homework help programs, free Internet access, and the many social and education programs the library offers.

"Libraries in America are cornerstones of the communities they serve and foster opportunities for economic growth. Libraries encourage business development, and help to retain and create jobs. They serve as an important link to the business community, assisting with job creation and training programs, as well as assisting with business development initiatives. For many small businesses the library provides research resources and staff they could not otherwise afford.

"Studies from Florida and South Carolina show libraries are not only a public good - but also an economic good - for communities. A 2004 Florida study found that libraries create jobs, increased gross regional product and increased wages. Florida public libraries return $6.54 for every $1 invested.

"It is not too late for the community in Jackson County to invest in their libraries. The community has a chance to save its libraries by voting on a property tax levy this May. The cost to the average homeowner would be a little over $9 per month, less than the cost of a DVD or CD."

Additional information regarding Jackson County library closures can be found at .