A little TRL envy from across the Columbia

The Daily Astorian ran an editorial this week that both praises libraries as essential in the information age, and the Timberland Regional Library as an enviable mode of operation:

Considering the obvious appeal of libraries as sophisticated farmer’s markets for information and communication, Clatsop County’s examples remain a little handicapped by each operating as essentially freestanding entities.

This wouldn’t be so obvious were it not for the nearby existence of the Timberland Library System, which serves Southwest Washington from Olympia to Ilwaco. Though it has not escaped wounds in the currently challenging economy, Timberland still manages to give world-class services to a region that might otherwise see many small towns hobble along with libraries consisting of donated books and low-rent space.

By combining together, the communities served by Timberland manage to afford a library system that would be the envy of most world-class cities. Sitting in one’s home, it is routine to order almost any conceivable book or bit of information. Furthermore, in a time when Google and others are digitizing the world’s books for instant computer access, Timberland is carving out a continuing role in its patrons’ lives by offering everything from free WiFi to downloadable eBooks, music and video.

As we look at upgrading Astor Library’s facilities, it is time for a renewed dialog about getting past turf and tax issues to bring all North Coast libraries into a framework that permits the same economies of scale and other advantages on obvious display in the Timberland system. Though a bright, newly renovated building is important, rewiring the ways we share knowledge is far more so.

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