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Local libraries save the day in southern Oregon

Contributions help restore losses from theft and vandalism at branch library in Cave Junction

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Local libraries aren't afraid to wear capes in support of reading. Nor are Washington County's library supporters shy about helping another library in need, as they recenly did by raising more than $2,000 for a southern Oregon branch ravaged by burglars.Last year, when Washington County's libraries launched a summer program encouraging patrons to be "reading heroes," some librarians even donned capes.

Now, some of its folks at member libraries are acting like real-life heroes by coming to the financial rescue of a rural library in southern Oregon that suffered from serious vandalism.

The Illinois Valley branch library in Cave Junction was vandalized and burglarized last month. While some of its losses were covered by insurance, meeting the deductible and replacing or restoring many uncovered items that had been stolen or damaged will cost about $5,000.

“Josephine Community Library, Inc., is a non-profit run library system that operates on a shoe-string," said Eva Calcagno, director of Washington County Cooperative Library Services, which spearheaded the rescue mission. "They get no government funding and rely on local donations and fundraising to keep the doors open. In a county with high unemployment, struggling to provide even basic public services, the JCLI is a bright spot in the community. To learn about this senseless act of vandalism was disheartening.”

Staff at WCCLS and member libraries in Cedar Mill, Garden Home, West Slope, Hillsboro and North Plains responded, passed the hat and collected more than $2,000 from library and some city staff, volunteers and Friends groups to help cover some of the costs from the crime.

“For the staff of Washington County libraries who benefit every day from excellent community, county and city support, it felt important to reach out to our fellow library in need," Calcagno said in a news release.

The incident took place the morning of Feb. 23 when robbers broke into the branch library, ransacking the building and stealing cash and other items. They cut phone and Internet lines, destroyed fuse boxes, shattered windows, damaged a computer and tossed out the contents of every drawer and cabinet. Even toys from the children's area were thrown out on the lawn.

Besides money, stolen property included an iPad and a special collection of minerals and gemstones on display.

Roberta Lee, manager of the Illinois Valley Library Branch, said: “I’ve been so impressed by the response to this ridiculous incident. I can’t help but feel the library’s more supported and loved than ever.”