Libraries are important to our communities. Not only do they provide educational, computer and multi-media resources to people of all ages and promote a love of reading and learning, they provide a safe environment for all.
Combining all Wallowa County Libraries into one service district will expand and enhance services with improved efficiency, while providing stable funding. I fully support the formation of the library district.
My love for libraries started when my mother first took me there as a child. We lived out in the country and didn’t have television.
Saturday was town day, and at least twice a month, it included a stop at the library. I soon had my own library card and learned to be responsible for the books I borrowed.
When I was in fourth grade, we moved into town, living only a block from the library. I walked to school and often stopped at the library on my way home. It was one of my favorite places. By the end of that school year, we were moving back to the country.
By junior high, I was using both the school and public libraries. I became a library aide and worked my free period each day at the school library. There I learned how to shelve books and help library users find what they were looking for. I did everything from entering new books in the card system and repairing bindings on well-used books to extend their life.
When I married Don and moved to the ranch on Imnaha, we made frequent visits to the Imnaha Library. To this day, we continue to use the library on a regular basis.
Later, I was the librarian at the Imnaha Library for about four years. It was rewarding to watch the school students grow in their ability to read and love of reading.
Needs change, and what libraries offer changes to meet those needs. It used to be just books to check out, then came story hour, books on tape and videos. Now there are all those plus computers for public use, DVD’s, after school programs, proctoring for on-line college students, “Deliver Me a Book” for those who can’t get to the library and more.
We don’t want to lose any of these services, and we will if the Wallowa County Library closes. We will lose much of the programming and grant funding for all of the libraries in Wallowa County.
If it is not approved, those of us who don’t live in one of the towns with a city library will no doubt have to pay a hefty yearly fee for a library card to use one of the city libraries.
I urge you to consider the value a good stable library system has for the county. From early learning through late in life learning to the simple joy of a good read, the library has something for everyone.
Please join me in voting “yes” for Wallowa County Libraries.
Bonnie Marks is a long-time resident of Imnaha and retired postmaster for the community.