Saving Salem Public Library

Written by: Sierra Porter | Staff Writer

Social media in Salem exploded amid rumors that the city would be shutting down the Salem Public Library to preserve its police budget, including an expanded team to sweep homeless camps. An outcry from Salem residents, including hundreds of emails to Mayor Chris Hoy, and support from surrounding communities has brought unity and hope that the library will be saved. Here’s what to know about the Salem Public Library budget cuts:

The city of Salem is facing a multi-million dollar shortfall and plans for no new revenue in the next year. Due to this, many plans to cut down costs have been introduced, including the possibility of closing the Salem Public Library. This plan was discussed at a budget meeting on March 21 when Chief Financial Officer, Josh Eggleston, was asked how one could keep all police and fire jobs. Eggleston presented hypothetical options that would balance the budget without additional revenue. Amongst these cuts were positions at the library that would completely reduce hours and many other parks and recreation positions. Salem is taking $1.2 million from the SPL alone. The city claims they have no plans on shutting down SPL completely, but by July, there will be tremendous cuts and changes. 

Public libraries offer affordable or even free access to a world of knowledge and life-long learning opportunities that are affordable or even free. Registered Behavior Technician and Salem resident, Jessie Shull, works directly with children in the community who often utilize the library. Shull says, “It’s going to impact low-income families in the area that use the library for more than just books. These resources are so valuable to children’s education and lives- without this access and sense of community they lose so much.” Shull believes these budget cuts will dwindle the benefits that the public library has to offer and ultimately eliminate many opportunities for those in the community. 

For the moment, Salem claims it will not shut down the library in its entirety, but librarians and residents have still testified at recent budget meetings in hopes of preventing further budget cuts.

The budget committee, which includes the mayor, city council and ten appointed community volunteers, will continue to discuss the cuts in meetings on April 17, April 24, May 1 and May 8, when they will make their recommendation to the city council. In June, the city council will hold a public hearing before adopting the annual budget. 

Show up, support and save the Salem Public Library. 

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