29 Agriculture and Art Meet at the Library

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OLA Quarterly, Vol: 23, Issue: 3, Page: 29-34

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Vegter, Brian
Pacific University Library; Pacific University Libraries
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In July 2015, I was approached by Perry Stokes, Director of Baker County Library District and President of Libraries of Eastern Oregon (LEO), about an arts program that was being funded through ArtPlace America. If you didn’t know, LEO is the nation’s largest geographic library consortium, and we seek to enhance civic engagement, social capital, and the personal development of individuals. Fifteen counties and more than 50 public libraries in Oregon make up LEO, from Hood River to Ontario, Baker City to Lakeview, and just about everywhere in between, with a few exceptions in Central Oregon. The idea behind the ArtPlace America grant was to help impact conversations with local governments and national agencies about how the arts benefit rural economies.The library presentations and workshops were the easiest things to tackle, but what ArtPlace was looking for from LEO was more than just arts-related workshops to be held at libraries. It wanted us to make a difference in our communities through the arts. The story that follows is an account of how we went about that larger goal with the film project titled “Harvesting Our Stories” (HOS).The goal of HOS was to pair artists with agricultural producers to tell stories of how these two seemingly different occupations impact our state’s rural economy and work together for stronger and more vital communities.