Salem Public Library Bond Information

​Quick facts

Please refer to the questions and answers below, or view our interactive website, to find out more information about the proposed seismic retrofit, Americans with Disabilities Act, and proposed safety improvements and the Council’s direction thus far.

This information was reviewed by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office for compliance with ORS 260.432.

Why has the Salem City Council proposed a Library Bond?

The Salem Library serves more than 165,000 people in the Salem area and maintains 337,373 items in its collection. Internal statistics compiled by Library staff show that each day, roughly 1,6​00 people check out 3,700 books and library materials. The Library hosts more than 2,000 programs for children, teens, and adults every year. Additionally, the Library makes five meeting rooms and the Loucks​ Auditorium available for community members to host their events.​

If the bond passes, Seismic, safety, accessibility and system improvements to the Salem Public Library building and parking garage would ensure continued use of this community resource for decades to come. If the bond does not pass, the proposed changes will not be made and the library will continue to operate under existing conditions. City Council has not identified other potentials funding sources.

If the bond passes, how much would this cost me?

The total cost of the Library Improvements General Obligation Bond Measure would be $18.6 million. If it passes, property owners would see an estimated tax increase of $0.12 (12 cents) per $1,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner with a $200,000 house would pay $2 a month.

Use this tool to estimate your cost, if the bond passes.

What experience does Salem have managing large projects and if the bond passes how would the public's financial interests be protected?

The City has a solid track record of accountability and stewardship when implementing bond funded programs. The City manages its programs to ensure they stay within budget and meet community needs. For example, the City was able to purchase more equipment and make upgrades to fire stations with savings from the 2006 Fire Bond, and more than 20 additional projects were accomplished with savings from the 2008 Streets and Bridges Bond.

If the bond passes, what would the next steps be?

The City Council voted to put the Library Improvements General Obligation Bond Measure 24-432 on the November 2017 ballot. If voters approve the bond, work would immediately begin on design and engineering. Given the invasive nature of the seismic retrofitting, the library collections would be moved to one or more locations for the duration of the project. If the bond is passed, construction would be scheduled to begin in 2018 or 2019. If the bond does not pass, the proposed seismic retrofit, general safety, and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility improvements would not be made and the library would continue to operate under existing conditions. City Council has not identified other potentials funding sources.​

Why a library bond?

Information about how the proposed bond improvements would make the library building and parking structure more accessible, support the infrastructure in the event of an earthquake, and make every day use safer for patrons and staff.

Making the Library structurally sound

The Salem Public Library and adjacent parking structure were built before scientists discovered that a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake could impact the Salem region. In 2014, the City commissioned an engineering study from the Portland firm of BergerABAM. The study found that the library and parking structure do not meet standards for life safety, and that library users, staff, and volunteers would be at risk in a major earthquake. Seismically retrofitting the Salem Public Library and parking structure would increase patron and staff safety in the case of an earthquake.

If the bond passes, seismic structural improvements to the library building and parking garage would secure these structures for decades to come.

Making the Library accessible

The current building was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and is not in full compliance with ADA requirements. Any structural or safety improvements to the building would require it to be brought into full ADA compliance. These improvements would allow the library to provide improved services and accessibility to its patrons.

If the bond passes…

Safety and security upgrades to the Library would be made including:

  • Replacing library shelves designed in the 1950s. They are not designed for seismic events and would not withstand the effect of a major earthquake. It is not possible to repair or retrofit them to make them seismically safe. They must be replaced if the library undergoes a seismic upgrade.

  • The security cameras are at the end of their useful life and must be replaced.

  • The current public address system is at the end of its useful life and must be replaced. It currently requires frequent and expensive maintenance, and does not support all areas of the building.

Cost-saving infrastructure improvements

The bond would include replacement or repair of several building systems that would be affected by the work to seismically upgrade the building. These systems, including electrical wires, plumbing, and ducting, are near the end of their useful life and would be damaged through the installation of the seismic strengthening elements. Many of the systems currently require regular repairs to maintain function and will need either a substantial overhaul or replacement in the near future. Replacement of these systems would extend the useful life of the library and reduce future annual maintenance costs.

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Library Administration Office
Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
585 Liberty ST SE RM 317
Salem OR 97301
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