Volume 2, Number 1 Spring 1996
Alternative Funding Sources
Carnegie, LSCA, bond measures. In recent years some new,
imaginative ways of funding library buildings have been discovered
and used. the editor
Chetco Community Public Library in Brookings:
Certificates of Participation Help Build a New Building
by Susana Fernandez, Library Director, Chetco Community Public
Following formation of the Chetco Community Public Library in
1983, the board of directors began planning for the library's
improvement. Studies conducted in 1987 and 1989 by the State Library
at the request of the board found both the library facilities and
services inadequate to meet the needs of the area's population, which
had grown rapidly in recent years. These studies provided the impetus
for the board's drive for a new library.
In 1973 the library had received a sizable bequest, which was
deposited in the Oregon State Investment Pool. The library depended
each year on the earned interest to supplement the insufficient funds
provided by the district's tax base for library operations. Over the
years this fund had grown to over $300,000 and the board intended to
use this money to purchase a suitable site and hire an architect to
design the new facility. The board also intended to use the money as
matching funds necessary for construction grants.
In 1990, district voters passed a new tax base more than three and
one-half times greater than the existing tax base. This enabled the
board to begin improvement and expansion of library services, and it
provided funds needed to operate a new and larger facility. It also
freed up more than $300,000, which was to provide the basis for the
new building project.
In 1991, the board located and purchased a suitable site, hired an
architect, and developed a preliminary budget for the project. After
investigating options for financing the new library's construction,
in early 1992 the board signed a $1.15 million, 15-year
lease-purchase loan financed by certificates of participation with
U.S. Bank's Public Finance Department.
With financing assured, construction of the new library began in
late 1992. During construction, the board set out to fill a budget
gap left by the library's failure to receive an LSCA Title II
construction grant. A five-person Project Fund Committee was
appointed by the board, and the effort to raise an additional
$100,000 for "extras" began. Working out of office space donated by a
local merchant, committee members raised nearly $150,000 in the
community over four months. Construction was completed one month
after the close of the fund drive.
The Chetco Community Public Library opened its new 17,500 square
foot facility on August 28, 1993.
Deschutes County Library System:
Using Library Districts for Capital Funding
by Ralph Delamarter, Library Director, Deschutes County Library
In 1990 and again in 1993 Deschutes County voters narrowly
defeated general obligation bond measures. These measures proposed
library facility improvements to all four Deschutes County Library
System libraries. In each election, voters in Bend, Sunriver, and
Black Butte Ranch supported the measures, but voters in other areas
of the county did not.
Residents of the more rural areas believed their taxes were
providing more benefits to other areas of the county than to their
areas. The proposal did provide benefits to each community, but not
enough to gain the required support.
To address this perception, the county turned to Oregon Revised
Statutes Chapter 451, "County Service Facilities," to form library
districts, one of several services permitted under this chapter.
Under the Deschutes County formation resolutions, five library
districts were established for capital funding to construct, remodel
or renovate library facilities. Although operation funding is
permitted under ORS 451, the decision was to keep operational funding
under the county general fund budget. This approach allows local
decision on new facilities, but maintains county services such as the
automated cataloging and public access catalog, circulation control,
reference and collection development.
Because operational funding is not a district responsibility, the
Deschutes County Commission could form the districts by county
commission resolution without a public vote for district formation
and for a tax base establishment. General obligation bond funding
still requires voter approval for construction projects.
What was the result of this approach? In 1995 both Redmond and
Bend library service districts presented bond measures for voter
consideration. Both were overwhelmingly supported, with the Bend
measure receiving the highest "yes" majority at 69 percent
of any recent money measure in Deschutes County. These two
campaigns benefitted from better organization and better strategy
than the previous two bond measures. The campaigns' local emphasis
permitted a local focus and removed voter concern that another
community would receive funding for something they would not get to
use. Compared with the 1993 election, each district was 14% more
favorable in 1995. How much of that was due to organization and
strategy and how much was due to the districts is difficult to say.
We believe the district approach made a huge difference.
by George Happ, Library Director, Salem Public Library
When Salem's central library building was dedicated in 1971, the
library board and administration envisioned a facility development
strategy focused on building a system of branches. The city's
planning commission and city council had a different vision. The
city's 1984 capital improvement planning process rejected the
branch-development concept. Instead the library was told it would
have to fully realize the potential of the central location before
branches would be authorized. There were two primary reasons for
this: to avoid new costs for staff and collection development that
branch operations create and to continue to feature the downtown area
as the destination for shopping and city services.
The library dutifully directed its planning in that direction.
Unfinished basement space became the audio-visual center in 1984. By
1985 the library board had authorized use of trust funds to prepare a
preliminary study on how the building could best be expanded. Cost
estimates for the expansion plan were established.
Recognizing that the library was located in the 20-year-old
Pringle Urban Renewal District*, that most of the
district's objectives had been accomplished, and that a fund balance
of more than $7 million had built up in the district's account, the
library administration initiated discussions with the city finance
director and city attorney regarding applying some of the accumulated
balance to the library project. The response was that this would not be
possible because the library was not mentioned specifically as one of
the district's goals when it was formed.
In 1989 Salem had both a newly elected mayor and a newly hired
city manager. The library board again brought forth the question
about the use of existing renewal district funds for the much needed
and much planned library expansion. This time the answer was "yes."
That is, if an amendment to the district's goals passed the scrutiny
of a public hearing. It did, and the rest is history. The newly
expanded and renovated central library was dedicated in January 1991.
It was built with existing funds without increasing the city's bonded
indebtedness, and it improved the quality of public facilities in a
way clearly in the spirit of the renewal district's goals.
* Renewal districts are formed to improve a deteriorating area of
a community. Funds accrue to the district when property taxes on the
value of improvements to privately held properties are deposited to
the district account rather than distributed to city, county or
school district general funds.
The Partnership Approach
by George Happ, Library Director, Salem Public Library
The Salem Public Library's only branch facility was established in
1957, in part to recognize the cordial annexation of the formerly
independent city of West Salem to the city of Salem. The West Salem
Branch Library occupied the first floor of the former West Salem City
Hall, an old brick building complete with musty jail cells,
inadequate parking, leaking walls, small spaces, and split-level rest
By 1985 the facility had badly deteriorated. The city studied the
possibility of a major overhaul, but dismissed the concept as too
costly. The library board and administration had, in the meantime,
begun discussions with supermarket owner Orville Roth, who was
developing plans for a new shopping center in that same area of the
community. This generated immediate interest and agreement about the
compatibility of a supermarket-anchored shopping center and a public
library. Unfortunately, Mr. Roth's construction plans were several
years in the future, but the library's needs were immediate.
The city authorized the library to attempt to find affordable
rental quarters. In 1987 the branch moved to leased space in the
nearby Oak Hills Shopping Center. Although the location was a short
two blocks from the old building, usage immediately exploded. The
shopping center location was even more attractive than anticipated.
Business thrived, and the branch library lived happily ever after
or did it? Enter tax limitation Measure 5.
As in most cities, the library took its lumps when Measure 5
entered the ring in 1991. In Salem's case, the options included
closing the newly expanded central library one or two days each week,
closing the branch, eliminating bookmobile service, and gutting the
book budget. Because the lease on the branch library's space was up
for renewal and the price was going up, the city saw the branch as a
logical place to cut costs. With their library threatened with
elimination, the neighborhood let it be known that closure was not a
politically acceptable solution.
Through a series of community forums, library board deliberation,
and negotiation with the Salem-Keizer school district, the branch
moved into shared space with Walker Middle School in July 1991.
Although school district personnel cooperated fully and well designed
agreements and procedures were established, the location and
environment never caught on with the library's users. Business
dropped dramatically. In 1994, when the district passed a capital
improvement budget, Walker School was slated for major renovation.
The branch library was invited to stay, but would have needed to
contribute $150,000 to the project if extra space for the public's
needs was to be constructed.
Because of the decline in public use, the enthusiasm regarding
raising funds for a long term commitment to the school location
flagged. The Salem Public Library Foundation stepped into the picture
at this point to begin to research other possible sites for the
Leased space, vacant buildings and bare land were all analyzed.
All were either too expensive or inadequate. When it looked as if the
school option might be the only one, our old friend Mr. Roth who by
now had developed his shopping center came forward through one of
our Library Foundation board members to offer a site on his shopping
center property. The Library Foundation immediately pledged to raise
$200,000 for construction and the board encumbered $100,000 from a
recently received bequest for the same purpose.
With more than half of the branch library's construction cost
raised from non-tax sources, and with valuable land donated by a
prominent member of the business community, the city council
authorized the remainder of the funds for the project without much
fuss. The general fund budget provided the city's share.
The branch was dedicated in September 1995, and usage increases
have averaged more than 60% above the school location. The project
generated so much good will that a major developer who has land
holdings in the area of the city earmarked for our next branch has
donated the site, valued at $160,000, to house branch number two.
Fund raising and bond levy strategies are currently being developed
for that project.
Old Into New:
Pendleton Public Library's New Building Spurred by ADA Requirements
by Tom Hilliard, Library Director, Pendleton Public Library
Pendleton Public Library occupies a unique, 1916 Carnegie building
that defies the best efforts to find a rectangle in the whole
structure. It was built as the headquarters of the Umatilla County
Library, a 10-branch system that operated until 1987. That year,
voters created a special library district, which now channels taxes
to 12 cities to operate their own libraries in a shared system. The
city of Pendleton inherited the building along with the
responsibility for operation of a public library.
When library funding was at a low point, the county library closed
the separate children's library in the basement and moved all
materials to the main floor. Pendleton continues to operate the
building the same way, but circulation has risen from 60,000 to
110,000 during the past nine years. The library serves 22,000 people
but occupies a mere 5,000 square feet on the building's main floor.
Except for a secondary entrance with a steep ramp there are no
handicapped improvements to the building, and rest rooms and meeting
space are still in the basement.
Another city building has similar problems. The Pendleton City
Hall has even worse accessibility problems: A long ramp through the
garage gets people to the finance department on the first floor, but
all other city functions are on the second floor.
Saddled with these substandard buildings, the city created a
Facilities Committee to try to meet Americans with Disabilities Act
requirements in these buildings and to consider future needs. Several
architectural studies later, the committee began looking at a
32,000-square-foot vacant building known as the old Helen McCune
Junior High School.
The McCune building is a typical school building, and it could
have been a Carnegie reprint. It is imposingly rectangular, with
steps centered on the front leading to the first of two stories. A
partial basement lies under the rear half. Any reuse of the building
had to consider retaining first-floor columns to support the second
floor. Because of a two-story ell added to the rear of the building
during the 1950s, any remodel had to consider access to five levels
within one building. On the positive side, Mccune is flanked by two
buildings, an auditorium belonging to the city and a gymnasium used
by the city recreation program.
It isn't surprising that the first restructuring estimates were
high. A proposal to build an expandable 10,000 square foot building
in its place seemed to be a sound decision to the Facilities
Committee, but in a bond election for more than $3 million, the
voters didn't agree. There were several reasons for "no" votes:
People did not want to see McCune torn down, they wanted to know the
fate of the Carnegie building, and they felt the cost for remodeling
had to be less than new construction.
After studying the remodeling issue again, the Facilities
Committee solicited cost estimates from contractors and eliminated
some top-of-the-line elements. In the end, the committee came up with
a figure of $2.9 million for remodeling. The city cleared many
questions regarding reuse of the Carnegie building by declaring that
it would stay open for public use. As a result, voters approved the
remodeling of McCune by 2,717 to 1,220 in a November 1994 bond
Heeding public comments, the architects abandoned their proposal
to create an entrance in the corner of the ell at the building's
rear and used the existing central entrance at the front. A new
portico will enclose stairs and an elevator that will provide access
to the library level on the main floor and to city hall on the second
floor. Architects also solved the access problem to the addi-tion by
creating a ramp 80 feet long and 9 feet wide from the main level down
to the addition level. A second, interior elevator will give staff
access to the basement for storage and make future expansion
The remodeled building will still be flanked by the auditorium and
the gymnasium, creating a two-block complex of city buildings with
more than 100 parking spaces. Pendleton Public Library will occupy
more than 15,000 square feet of space on the first level, triple the
space in the Carnegie building. From the entrance, patrons will have
access to periodicals, new materials, videos, books-on-tape,
genealogy, reference, microfilm, both adult and children's rest
rooms, and the circulation counter. One end of the main floor will
house all children's areas, all staff functions will be clustered in
one area adjacent to circulation, and an interesting alcove will be
used for a new young adult area. Down the ramp, patrons will find all
the adult stacks with study tables scattered throughout and a
meeting room with its own after-hours access.
All furniture that can be moved from the Carnegie building will be
used, and fund raising is under way to purchase new furniture and
shelving needed to fill additional space. The city sold the old City
Hall, and the proceeds of $60,000 will help pay for improvement of
access to the Carnegie building. The Arts Council submitted a
proposal, which has been accepted by the city, to establish an art
gallery, a small cafe, public meeting areas, and offices for itself
and the symphony in the building. A children's museum decided it
would soon outgrow the Carnegie library, so it is moving to a
Construction on McCune is scheduled to be completed by August 31,
so moving of the current library and City Hall is planned for early
fall. Citizens in Pendleton have much more than the Pendleton
Round-Up to look forward to in the fall of 1996.
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