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Group Pledges Help for Shasta County Libraries

Times Staff Writer

A group of volunteers from an Orange County literacy organization is trying to help reopen two libraries in Shasta County that have been closed since June, when the Northern California county ran out of funds.

“We’re quite aware that we aren’t going to make up the deficit,” said Carol Hazelwood, president of the Literacy Volunteers of America, Orange County chapter. “What we’re really trying to say is that libraries are an essential thing, like police and fire service.”

The chapter’s affiliates have pledged about $500 to the Shasta County libraries.

All the public libraries in Shasta County--the main library in Redding and nine branches--were closed June 30. At that time, there was no plan to reopen them, but last week county officials joined inan agreement under which the cities of Redding and Anderson will assist Shasta County in funding the libraries. Previously, the Shasta County government was solely responsible for funding libraries throughout the county.

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Under the agreement, Shasta County’s main library in Redding and one branch library in Anderson will reopen Jan. 30 for 32 hours each week.

“Nobody should be without a library,” said Laura Curran, an LVA volunteer who coordinates a literacy program affiliated with the public library in Placentia. “We want to show our support so there will be a place for our people to go read once they have learned to read.”

The literacy training program in Shasta also was closed when county funding ran out. LVA workers estimated that there are 21,000 functional illiterates in Shasta County. Curran said the money would help support the reopening of the Shasta libraries and the development of a literacy program based in the Fall River public library.

“All help is appreciated,” said Gretchen Goviet, president of the Friends of Shasta County Libraries, a group that has worked to raise funds for the Shasta libraries.

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“I am confident once we get the doors open again, they’ll stay open. We won’t be at normal funding, but the doors will be open, and that’s a step in the right direction.”

Shasta County has about $150,000 to run the libraries until June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Shasta County Executive Officer Michael Johnson said it would take at least $600,000 to operate the two branches for an entire year. He said that figure did not include significant funds for new books.


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