When the renovated Salem Public Library opens this fall, you'll find new features designed to make it a lot easier to get around.
The Library will now be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so that people who have physical challenges will be better able to move around the Library. The building has also been designed to be easier to navigate with improved signage, clearer lines of sight and more natural light for improved visibility.
"A significant amount of bond money, besides the seismic retrofit, was for accessibility inside and around the building," says Aaron Kimsey, Project Engineer for the City of Salem. "You have to remember, when the building was constructed in 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act didn't exist."
Salem voters approved an $18.6 million general obligation bond in 2017 for earthquake safety and accessibility improvements.
Safety and accessibility improvements include:
- Signage in English and Spanish to help you find what you're looking for,
- Upgrades to first floor restrooms,
- Easier-to-use door hardware throughout the building,
- Improved safety handrails, guardrails and stairs,
- New ADA parking,
- Upgraded pedestrian walkways to the new south entrance,
- In the Loucks Auditorium, new ADA wheelchair and companion seating, plus an accessible ramp to the stage.
New, shorter shelving will not only be more accessible, but also safer in an earthquake. "We're replacing the shelves for a lot of reasons," Aaron explains. "The old shelves were not structurally sound. Replacing shelves with more stable and structurally sound shelving means they are shorter and more accessible."
Placement of services within the Library also plays a role in accessibility and convenience. Service desks and patron areas are consolidated on the first and second floors. Services for children and teens have been located next to one another on the top floor in response to requests from parents.
Staff offices will be on the Peace Plaza level, along with meeting rooms. Another exciting improvement is the addition of free study rooms, also requested by patrons. Study rooms will be available to use for up to two hours a day. You'll be able to reserve them online or in person for up to one week in advance. In the past, Library patrons had often requested study rooms for a variety of activities including study or discussion groups, gaming groups and tutoring. Five study rooms have been added on the first floor, with an additional space in the Teen Scene area on the second floor.
In addition, previously added accessibility features will remain, including automatic door buttons and braille on elevator buttons.