Salem Public Library Seismic and Safety Upgrade Project

In November 2017, Salem voters approved a bond that pays for upgrades to the Salem Public Library to make it safer in an earthquake, bring it into full Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, and make other critical improvements. These changes ensure that the Salem Public Library will continue to be a resource for the Salem community for decades to come.

Opportunities to provide input

We are still in the planning stages of this project. Stay tuned for opportunities to provide feedback on the project.

Project Schedule

The project schedule has a few distinct phases:

  • By the end of 2018 we will select a consultant design team, owner's representative, and building contractor.

  • This project will require us to temporarily move the Salem Public Library to a new location during construction. We’ll announce the location in Spring 2019.

  • Building construction is scheduled to begin in early 2020 and we’ll reopen the library in May 2021.

Keeping up with the Project

Make sure to bookmark this page to stay up-to-date with the Library upgrade project. We will provide updates on this page, on our email newsletter list, and on social media.


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 1,600 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 Loucks Auditorium available for community members to host their events. This project includes the following improvements:

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 will increase patron and staff safety in the event of an earthquake.

Making the Library accessible

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

Other upgrades

  • Replacing library shelves designed in the 1950s. They are not designed for seismic events and will 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 as part of the 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.

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

Contact us

Kenny LarsonCommunications and Community Engagement Manager
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 220
Salem OR 97301
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