City can make a public library a reality

Jim Scheppke’s recent opinion piece in Salem’s daily paper, Salem needs more branch libraries, is right on the mark.

Those who understand the power that libraries bring to people have tried for decades to gain city support for branch libraries in the north and south areas of Salem. An even needier area of the extended community is Keizer. Reading scores in many of the Keizer schools are among the lowest in the Salem-Keizer district and the state. 

Since 1988, concerned citizen volunteers have run a small non-profit library, loaning a limited collection of donated books, DVDs and CDs to Keizer residents who could afford to pay $10 for library cards. Through much hard work, Keizer Community Library cards are now free so anyone can access these materials and services. 

What Keizer’s library doesn’t have is public library status. Why? Only because half of Keizer Community Library’s budget needs to come from public funds to complete the State Library of Oregon’s requirements to be a public library. 

A really small annual investment from the Keizer city budget would enable the library to apply for public library status and also for membership in Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service, giving people access to the vast resources of the regional library system. Convenient access to public library services in Keizer could make a difference for everyone, but especially for our children. With the help of Keizer city officials, this can be easily and quickly accomplished.

B.J. Toewe