What's the Matter with Douglas County?

In the fall of 2016 Douglas County, Oregon, population 106,972 voted to reject additional funding for its public libraries by a whopping 55 percent. What they rejected, in tangible terms, was to pay an additional 44 cents on every one thousand dollars of property tax. Most polled voters on the issue, which has been ongoing for several years, advocated for the county to do everything within its power to increase revenue from the long-languishing timber industry instead, a notion perhaps spurred on by the impending (and failed) sale of the nearby Elliott State Forest. The consequence of this epic shirking of responsibility? The complete closure of all Douglas County Libraries.
And then there’s this: Douglas County high schools rank lowest in the state for high school graduation rates, putting them firmly among the worst in the country. Is Douglas County a canary? A sign of the times? The beginning of the end of libraries? It could be all of those. For now, it remains proof of a broken system based on warped values.
Libraries matter.