Roseburg coffee shop offers 'Community Bookshelves' in library's absense

The Community Bookshelves at Cascadian Coffee Company in Roseburg, June 15, 2017. (SBG photo)

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- It's been three weeks since the Roseburg branch of the Douglas County Library System closed.

The county shut down all its branches this year after voters turned down a tax to fund them.

Now volunteer initiatives are popping up in several cities to salvage some form of library service, one of which kicked off Thursday.

At the Community Bookshelves at Cascadian Coffee Company, patrons can grab a coffee and grab a book. Volunteers set up the bookshelves and donations came pouring in to the closest thing Roseburg now has to a library.

"We probably got at least a few thousand, two or three thousand (books)," says Joe Ross. “In a very grassroots way, we sort of built these bookshelves from the ground up."

The collection of books came from donations, volunteers and the honor system.

"(We) don't keep track of the books, don't keep track of the people."

Ross and other leaders say it's a grassroots initiative to salvage some of what's been lost.

"It was a great library and now we've said no to it," says volunteer Joe Yetter.

Organizers say it isn't a permanent solution. It's a just a bookmark -- a placeholder in the community until Douglas County resumes library service.

"It's gonna be very nice,” Yetter says. “It's gonna be a nice place but it's not what we need in the community."

They're still hopeful that next fiscal year the money could come through to open the Douglas County libraries back up.

But even so, they say the shelves at Cascadian coffee would still have purpose.

"I could actually envision this project continuing even after our library system is back up and running or our main library reopens,” says Ross. “This is just a different type of model."

The Community Bookshelves at Cascadian Coffee Company are open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

They are still looking for volunteers and donations.

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