Saving Fossil's Library Severe budget cuts have threatened to shut down a cherished institution in isolated Fossil, Oregon -- the tiny local library, housed in a former garage. But Fossil's book lovers are fighting back, devising a variety of fundraising schemes to save what they say is a vital part of their town. NPR's Howard Berkes reports. See photos of Fossil, and hear a musical tribute to the town.
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Saving Fossil's Library

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Saving Fossil's Library

Saving Fossil's Library

Budget Cuts Endanger Lone Library in Small Oregon Town

Saving Fossil's Library

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1478538/1489831" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Listen to a song about Fossil, Ore., written by local artist Dan Robinson.

Only Available in Archive Formats.

The Fossil Public Library is in the town's city hall, in what used to be a garage for a fire engine. Trevor Humphreys, Wheeler High School. hide caption

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Trevor Humphreys, Wheeler High School.

Cities and states across the country are struggling with tight budgets, cuts in services and the prospect of raising taxes. That can seem especially challenging in small towns, which have scarce resources and limited alternatives. In isolated Fossil, Ore., population 450, the budget axe recently fell on a cherished local institution — the town library.

But as NPR's Howard Berkes reports, book lovers in Fossil are fighting back. One out of every four people in town is a dues-paying member of a group called Friends of the Fossil Library. In October, volunteers staged a murder-mystery weekend that raised close to $1,000 for the library — 10 percent of the yearly budget. With volunteers, the money will be enough to keep the library — a collection of some 4,500 hundred books crammed into a former garage — open for two hours a day, three days a week.

But that won't last long, and library advocates are working on ways to secure more reliable funding. Plans under consideration include the creation of a special library district and tax, and a possible partnership with a neighboring county.

To contribute to the Fossil Library, send checks to:

Friends of the Fossil Library

P.O. Box 505

Fossil, OR 97830