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Josephine Community Libraries, Inc.: First Chapters

First Chapters

Do you remember when you first walked into a library as a child? Or got your first library card, in your own name? Or checked out your first book? A lifetime of stories starts at the children’s library. Our libraries are busy, bustling, and full of activity.  Storytimes are packed, and books are flying off the shelves for summer reading.  This year’s Summer Reading Program is breaking records, with over 2,000 visitors in a single day. 

Children’s libraries are the first places families go to help their children learn to read, and they are the First Chapters of our children’s lives—but in Josephine County, they are overcrowded and outdated with limited space and old books.  

The youngest members of our community need our help. Updates to the children’s libraries are long overdue. We need new books—many of our materials are from the 1950s and 1960s. We need shelves the children can reach and  furniture their size. And, we need more space—for storytimes, programs, and reading activities for the whole family.   It’s time for us to come together and fund an update for the children’s libraries! 

If our library district Measure 17-62 had passed last fall, permanently funding the public library system, the first thing we would have done is update the children's libraries. But it didn't; so, once again our community is coming together to do right by our kids and provide them with the resources they need to be successful.  For now, our library system continues to operate as a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization relying on donations and volunteers to keep the doors open.

Our community loves our libraries, and we can make a difference. If we raise $40,000 together, we’ll be able to buy new up-to-date books, kid-friendly mobile shelves, new paint,  and carpet for both the Grants Pass and Illinois Valley branches.  

Through First Chapters, we can give our children the best chance to learn to love reading at the earliest age possible—in the most critical years of their life. Our libraries can make sure every child has the chance to read starting from birth. Let’s make a difference for Josephine County, for a lifetime. Please donate to First Chapters. 

A lifetime of stories starts with you. 

About First Chapters 

The First Chapters project will reimagine and reconfigure the children’s libraries (our 0-12 years old patrons along with their families) in the Grants Pass and Illinois Valley branches to modernize them into exploratory, flexible, and multimedia learning spaces for a variety of literacy programs conducive to children of different age groups and their parents. This effort transforms the outdated and worn 1960s-style children’s spaces into 21st-century children’s libraries with modern hands-on tools that inspire fun literacy exploration. 

Grants Pass Children's Area Drawing

Illinois Valley Children's Area Drawing

Our Community's Spirit

The libraries in Josephine County closed on May 17, 2007. Four months later, committed community members formed Josephine Community Libraries, Inc., a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring long-term library services for every county resident. By December 2009, JCLI had reopened all four shuttered locations.  Today, the libraries continue to operate thanks to generous donations and the heroic contributions of more than 390 volunteers annually.

These amazing community members are the super heroes of the library - join them and make sure we’re providing our kids—and the future of our community—with the building blocks for their First Chapters.  Join us by giving what you can to our crowdfunding campaign for the kids of Josephine Community Libraries. 

Other Ways You Can Help

Help spread the word about this campaign. Please like and share our video with family, friends, neighbors, and colleges, and send them to this page. Ask them to join you in donating! Use the tools on this page to share with Facebook or by email with your friends, families, neighbors, coworkers - anyone you think is interested in supporting children's libraries in Josephine County!

Leverage More Resources

Your support will help demonstrate our community's passion for this project and help us seek grant funding to support the First Chapters project, with initial funds received from the Four Way Community Foundation, the Cheney Family Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Grants Pass, and the City of Cave Junction, which has asked the community to match their $10,000 contribution.

On Day 1 and Day 2 of the raise, ALLCare CCO and Welch Investment Group LLC who both announced matches totalling $5,500.  They care about kids in the community, and want you to as well! And you did, making sure we were able to meet those matches.  

Supporter Rewards

Anyone who donates at any level will get their name listed as a Thank You on the Josephine Community Libraries website. Those who wish to remain anonymous will be listed as Anonymous.

Find out about the different rewards thanking you for being such an awesome children's library supporter on the right of this page.

At the highest supporter reward levels, we'll host you and two guests for a special Night at the Library and create an individual book for you as one of our library’s heroes! For those who give over $2,000 we’ll include your name on a wooden plaque in the children’s library space.  

Anticipated fulfillment of supporter rewards: 

If you're local, you can expect to pick up most of the rewards Oct 1 at your local branch of JCLI (Library heroes books are anticipated November 1 and wooden plaque will go up February 2016). We anticipate holding the Night at the Library event in Fall 2015.  We'll contact anyone who selects a reward to make arrangements for getting you the rewards following the raise.


Jennifer Sherman Roberts - Libraries Matter, No Matter What

KTVL - Josephine County Libraries Ask Public for Help 

Grants Pass Daily Courier - Let's Invest in Our Young Readers, Guest Opinion

Grants Pass Daily Courier - Children's Libraries Set to Launch Online Fundraiser


1. What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding literally means a large crowd funding a project together through on-line tools. It builds on the idea that many small donations add up to a large amount of funds. and that together we can all pitch in whatever we’re able to in order to make sure a project happens. It’s one way to reach both within our community - where over 15,000 individuals voted yes for the library district measure in favor of seeing funding go the library - and without, to any individual who feels passionate about supporting kids’ learning and libraries in any community.  One of the goals of the crowdfund is to engage new donors who might not otherwise know how to support the library we all believe in. Crowdfunding can help us do that! Read more crowdfunding FAQs.

2. Why is First Chapters important for our community?

Josephine County, like neighboring Oregon counties, lost revenue from federal timber receipts and has been unable to make up that revenue with local tax measures. As a result, 27 percent of Josephine County children live in poverty (Oregon Community Foundation Southern Oregon Regional Profile 2011). This project has special significance to our community because it’s said that if a child has not held a book by age three, there’s very little the education system can do for that child. Some data to support this:

  • Children from professional families have heard 30 million more words by the time they are three years old than those from families in poverty (“American Educator,” 2003).
  • In Josephine County, 27 percent of children live in poverty (Oregon Community Foundation Southern Oregon Regional Profile, 2011).
  • Students who are not proficient readers at third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school (report funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2012).

Josephine Community Libraries, through its children's libraries, works with the whole family providing stimulating, fun, and free literacy programs for children, while providing mentoring support and resources for the parents. This project has the potential not only to help individual children succeed in school and in life, but also to transform entire families and our community.

3. What will an updated space / books look like?
The updated space will be clean, open, and not too fancy. The new carpets in both libraries will be heavy duty, and colorful. Some of the bookshelves will have wheels so they can be easily moved to create more floor space for programs. The walls will be freshly painted and the shelves will be loaded with new nonfiction books for children. Parents and families will feel welcome, and it will be easy to locate books by age level. Everyone will be able to find a comfortable place to sit to read a book with a child or a friend.  You can see some drawings of the spaces for both the Grants Pass and the Illinois Valley children's libraries on this page. 
4. I have a ton of old children’s books I could donate - what about just using those?
While we accept book donations, many of the donations we receive are more than too old or worn to be added to the collection. First Chapters is a project to fund the purchase of newer books for children, especially nonfiction. For more information about the library’s policy on book donations, click here.
5. How is this crowdfund any different than the fundraising that happens at other times of the year for the libraries? 
The regular fundraising efforts by Josephine Community Libraries keep the four branch libraries open and operating in Grants Pass, Williams, Wolf Creek, and the Illinois Valley. Because the public libraries in Josephine County do not receive any regular funding from taxes, funds raised during the regular library drives in spring and fall are used to keep the lights on and the facilities working. In order to update the children’s libraries in Grants Pass and Illinois Valley, staff and volunteers must raise additional funds. Some additional funds for First Chapters will be acquired through grants.

Thank You!