Sunday, February 16, 2014

A better plan for the Library and Civic Center Complex

1) because a library district appears to be dead and would only further compress property taxes, the solution for library and information services in Salem is a small tax on all internet, cable TV, and satellite (DishTV) services provided to city residents and businesses, with all the revenue dedicated to full funding for libraries and public information services.

Full funding = seven day a week library services (at least 78 hours weekly, 12 hours x 6 days + 1 day of at least six hours) with a library within walking and biking distance of all residents. Meaning one in W. Salem, one in North, one in NE, one in Central, and one mid-south, one far south. Also, every school library should receive funding to be opened as community satellite libraries open to the public in the evenings.

2) But NOT the current library.
The smart plan for the civic center:

A) kick out the library and divide the collection among the new leased branch libraries as above. Empty grocery stores are especially good, but other vacant storefronts are suitable too.

B) Retrofit the empty library complex and give it to the police. The seismic retrofit would go much more quickly with no tenant, and cost far less with no concerns about trying to maintain the open plan library that makes reinforcing columns a no-no.

C) Move police out and retrofit city hall with no new building construction. Take the lid off and center and stop. Done, for many millions less than the current plans.

You need to move fast-- the library has been gathering funds for a big upgrade to the children's area; it has been delayed, and that money should not be spent at all for an upgrade that will be ripped out, but should be instead used to defray the costs of converting the storefronts and expanding libraries into the whole community rather than having a half-starved main library and a wholly starved library branch within a mile of each other in downtown.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

That's an interesting idea, but it would be sad not to have a "main library" downtown. I always wished it was located even more centrally and nearer to the transit mall. The AE Doyle main library building in downtown PDX is really lovely, and as the capital city we should have aspired to something greater than what we have.

At the same time, as you point out, it's terrible that we don't have a better branch system with meaningful coverage for all neighborhoods - libraries at least some kids can walk or bike to.

It'll be interesting to read what others have to say.

Walker said...

I love grand libraries (and all libraries), but it's time to admit that we do not have the will to fund a robust library service and the big main building at the same time.

The main library has become essentially the only library, and yet we have no transit at all on Saturdays and Sundays to help people access it. Worse, we are cutting the books and materials budget even more-- it's been steadily declining year after year. When you look at spending $70-80 million to house fewer and fewer materials that fewer and fewer people can access easily, something has to give. Salem is littered with overbuilt commercial space that can be cheaply repurposed and turned into library outposts/community centers, with meeting rooms, computer labs, employment centers once we stop spending all the money on the "main" library. Every one of the neighborhoods in Salem should have either a library outpost or a shared SK Schools/Salem Library facility that brings library services out to the people. The police can have the building and the existing ramp for all their cars -- end of problem.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

About a decade ago Larry Epping offered land for a library on Lancaster Dr across from McKay High School. The neighbors were excited at the prospect, but it did not come to pass because the City would not put up any effort to raise the million dollars to build it, because they said it was not going to be able to keep up the operations.

There are vacant store fronts in the area that would be perfect locations for a library, but with a City Manager who has no imagination, it is not likely to happen.

I like this idea and hope that it can get some real consideration. When Brad Nanke brought up the idea at a Council worksession with staff, Linda Norris nixed the idea right off. So, did Mayor Peterson. She said, "the Council already decided to build at the Civic Center." Which is kind of true that the Council did vote to proceed with developing a plan to build at the Civic Center a few years ago, but that is a vote that can be reversed. And it is clear that the public is not supportive of spending $80 million on the current plan.

Instead of looking at alternatives the City Manager thinks that all they need to do is spend more time and money on 'educating' the public about the need and the 'rightness' of their plans.

I wish we had someone in charge who respected the people and their good sense!