The Coos Bay Crown Jewel
“Our library remains the center of community activity with increased circulation and expanding services for its loyal patrons. I hope that in the future the library will always be considered the city’s crown jewel and never be neglected.”
-Mayor Verger, August 20, 1999 Grand Re-opening
The mission of the Coos Bay Public Library is to connect our community to information in various forms, ensure equitable access to information and technology, and provide opportunities for learning, cultural enrichment and improved quality of life. The library is a vital asset in our community and serves as the primary cultural and community center.
In addition to a book collection of 81,555 for book lovers to enjoy, the library provides hundreds of quality library programs, meetings of various community and student groups and many opportunities for local residents to connect with each other. A growing number of community members rely on the library’s free use of computers, hot spots, software, training materials, and other resources that are lifelines to healthcare, employment, and educational advancement.
Why The Library Needs A New Building
Due to its location in a flood plain, the library’s current building is not sustainable long-term. The cost of making the repairs and necessary improvements to the current structure is equal to or exceeds the cost of a new building. A new building will provide more space to increase our collections and programs as well as an energy efficient, flexible space that can grow with our community. Library patrons will no longer be turned away from special programs due to lack of space. Waiting times for computers will become a thing of the past. Increased community room and outdoor space will be available for area groups to use.
City Council Presentations
Presentations regarding the library site analysis by Hacker Architects and survey option at the March 21, 2023 City of Coos Bay City Council Meeting.
- Discussion regarding the historical timeline and analysis of potential library sites leading to the current site location
- Discussion begins at 20:31
- Discussion Regarding Library General Obligation Bond
- Discussion begins at 1:03:40
- The city had been working towards a new library facility since discovering major foundation failings in 2014. A new location in John Topits Park, near the current bathrooms and playground, has been identified for the new library. In order to finance the building and equipment a general obligation bond will need to be issued. The city would have to pay a portion of the ballot costs. Download the complete Meeting Minutes here.
- Discussion Regarding Potential Library Bond Issuance
- Discussion begins at 1:05:39
- City Manager Rodger Craddock shared that at the July 21, 2021 Coos Bay Public Library Board of Trustee meeting, the board made the decision to recommend to City Council to place the library bond on the ballot in May 2022. Mr. Craddock shared a summary of the process to date. Ms. Wirsing provided an update on the process for repairing the roof. Curt Benward addressed concerns about necessary repairs in order to maintain a working library while awaiting construction of the new facility, stressing the importance of the safety of staff and citizens using the library.
- Update from Library Facilities Steering Committee & Library Site Selection
- Steering Committee Update begins at 23:39
- Library Site Selection discussion begins at 46:03
- Download Meeting Minutes here
- Continuation of Library Bond Discussion
- Discussion begins at 13:16
- Download Meeting Minutes here
January 28, 2020 Joint City Council & Urban Renewal Agency Board Work Session
- Library Bond Discussion
- Download Meeting Minutes here
March 5, 2019 City Council Meeting
- Consideration of Feasability Study and Bond Survey for New Library Facility
- Library Director Sami Pierson highlighted the current facility structural problems and gave recap from presentation given at the January 8, 2019 work session meeting. The next step for a new library facility was to conduct a funding feasibility study and a bond survey. The feasibility study would help determine the potential level of private and potential grant funding, and also be used as an opportunity to educate the public regarding the current situation with the building. Feedback would provide information such as perceptions of a new facility and details capital campaign group could utilize, as well as guide the public information campaign. Download complete Meeting Minutes here.
January 8, 2019 Joint City Council & Urban Renewal Agency Board Work Session
- Coos Bay Public Library Facilities Tour
- The Council, City Staff, and public toured the Coos Bay Public Library to observe the structural issues of the facility.
- Coos Bay Public Library Facilities Steering Committee Progress Update
- Library Director Sami Pierson and Library Board Member Curt Benward made a presentation on the Coos Bay Public Library history, current operations, ongoing structural problems, completed engineering study results, new building estimated costs, and possible funding options of a bond levy for full or partial amount of estimated cost, fundraising, and grant writing. Ms. Pierson and Mr. Benward suggested a feasibility study and phone survey to gauge support of a bond. Council discussed and requested staff to present the information at a Council meeting for further discussion.
- Download Meeting Minutes here
Current Building FAQ
The current building sits on what used to be a large slough. The area was filled in and the water diverted through a large culvert behind the library. With the rising and lowering of the tide, heavy rains, and long dry periods, the fill beneath the library continues to shift. Various parts of the building are rising and falling at different rates. The pilings under the building have failed due to the soil shifting and because they no longer have the same tension as when they were driven into the ground over fifty years ago. Through a 2014 engineering study, it was determined that all of the pilings under the building have failed.
Although the building is currently safe to occupy, there is a concern the constant shifting of the foundation could cause structural damage requiring the closure of the building. There are cracks in ceiling beams and support posts.
As the building continually shifts, the roof also moves opening up new paths for water to enter the building. The roof had a new coating applied in 2017 but leaks, both new and old, continue to appear because of the building movement. Parts of the ceiling have come down as a result of the leaking. It is not uncommon for staff to need to take measures to protect office equipment and library materials from the leaking, most commonly by placing tarps or trash bins in the areas where leaks are most problematic. In 2021, roof repairs were made to help mitigate the numerous leaks.
No part of the building has any seismic reinforcement. While the building was built to code at the time that it was constructed, it does not meet today’s building codes. The current building is in the Local and Cascadia Tsunami Zones. Without modern retrofitting, the current building and any of its utilities and services are vulnerable to considerable seismic damage in the event of an earthquake. This also presents a significant danger to library patrons, staff, and anyone using the building.
The building’s continual movement and shifting affects the walls. This is evident by the cracks found in many of the walls throughout the building. The most obvious and greatest number are in the Northeast corner. The cracks continue to grow in size and number throughout the library.
The HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems range in age from almost sixty to twenty years old. All systems experience high use and are in constant need of repair.
The current building was built when libraries were mainly book focused. Today libraries serve as community spaces where people meet, learn, socialize, and use library materials. Space needs to be flexible to meet the ever-changing needs of library users.
The layout and configuration of the current building prevents spaces within the library to change or be adapted to meet these ever-changing needs. This includes:
- Shelving that is fixed in place and does not allow for easy adaptation for the library’s continually evolving collection.
- Insufficient number of electrical outlets to serve the needs of patrons and the library.
- Inability to relocate public computers due to the fixed location of their power sources.
- Current configuration of the building does not allow for clear lines of sight for safety reasons and to better assist patrons.
- The cost of making the repairs and necessary improvements to the structure is equal to or exceeds the cost of a new building.
- A repaired building would still leave the library in a vulnerable position on unstable ground in a tsunami and flood zone. The new library needs to be sited out of the tsunami zone.
- Construction to repair the building and make necessary upgrades would require the library be closed for a year or more robbing the community of a valuable resource.
- This is not a problem that is going to go away. The longer the solution is delayed the more costly it becomes and the potential for loss of services increases.