News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Closure of Book Corner is a disservice

Many folks in Sisters are lamenting the loss of our Book Corner, the longtime source of used books and DVDs, etc. Of course we all cheer the prospect of library expansion in any of the Deschutes Library branches, but I think a few aspects of the reorganization need to be highlighted.

The Nugget article (January 20) didn’t mention that Director Todd Dunkelberg ordered dissolution of all “Friends of the Sisters Library” (FOSL) groups because he felt the funds raised were “not significant enough” to merit continuing the non-profit endeavor at any of the branches. However, the Sisters group pulls in several thousand dollars each year, largely because most of us thought it was directly used to benefit our library and all its endeavors. He basically negated all of the countless hours, books and dollars donated by so many over all these years.

The article also didn’t tell us that all accumulated funds in our Sisters Friends account would be transferred to the new Deschutes Library Foundation, to be administered from Bend, nor the amount accumulated in our local fund.

However, instead of explaining exactly why our FOSL non-profit groups were being dissolved, some of the local library staff have apparently been trying to rationalize the closure by telling volunteers and other members of the public that the library needs the space for remodeling, and further, that we volunteers were getting too old and there were not enough of us to keep things going.

In effect, they seemed to be trying to put the blame for closures in all branches on the volunteers! One individual attempting to justify the ending of the non-profit FOSL organization even explained to me that although our local group was doing OK, “One branch had only three volunteers and two of them were in wheelchairs; it’s just sad.” My reaction was, how wonderful!

Mentioning age as a factor in the closures is a hurtful disservice to our volunteers and all others in Sisters, as if we don’t all know our own limits — and strengths! In this community, it is the retired age group who staff most of the volunteer ranks of any community events, and we love being useful. Yes, a few folks cannot lift heavy boxes of books, but most of us have managed for many years to paw through bags and boxes of peoples’ donations and get them shelved for browsing.

One volunteer said, “What age must one be to lift a book?” In my nine years I only recall having to close once for lack of a volunteer! But what Mr. Dunkelberg doesn’t understand is that the Book Corner, besides being an important funding source, became a cozy haven for folks to drop in, chat maybe, share in the greater purpose by purchasing or donating books, thus feeling a part of a community goodwill endeavor. We have not only raised many thousands of dollars, but also have contributed to our community’s literacy needs with book donations to groups, free coupons and certainly affordable reading, particularly for children.

I doubt any of us will feel the same devotion toward a vague “foundation” without the personal connection.

I believe all volunteers accept the need for change as Central Oregon grows, and we cheer the retention of our wonderful art endeavors under Zeta Seiple’s experienced hand. However, the library and FOSL leadership might have shown respect for all Book Corner current and past volunteers with the actual reason, coming straight from the top, rather than propagating the myth of age and inadequate numbers. Those two simple words, “thank you,” tacked on to the recent article would have been a nice touch.

So I will add a special thanks to all past and present managers (Lisa Shaddox), and volunteer workers, donors and “Friends.” Jim Anderson, folks still request your beautiful nature bookmarks!


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