A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Downtown library: When the doors are closed

Written December 29th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The signs on the door of the Carnegie Library Thursday included one saying it was closed.

Normally, Thursday afternoon is one of the times that the Carnegie Library in downtown Albany is open. But not during the vacation week between Christmas and New Year’s.

I was hoping to check something on the historical maps of old Albany that are available at the downtown library. But as the sign above says, on Thursday I found the place closed.

School was out of session for the second half of Christmas vacation this week. Wouldn’t that be a good time for young people bored of hanging around the house to walk to the library, or ride a bike there, to browse the collection for something new to read?

Or even just to meet with friends?

Or does that sort of thing, in 2023, no longer take place?

Well, you say, the sign invites people to visit the main library. But if you’re within  walking — or maybe boarding or biking  — distance of  the downtown branch, the main branch is too far away. And, situated, situated in the middle of the commercial hub on 14th Avenue, it’s surrounded by heavy traffic, not  ideal as a destination.

The Carnegie library’s downtown location is not necessarily convenient for thousands of residents in southeast Albany. But for people living in the older parts of town, the downtown branch is easier to reach, and there’s less traffic.

The Albany Public Library has staffing problems, as everybody knows. Already, the downtown hours have been sharply reduced. But closing during a school vacation tells the public that sooner or later, this conveniently located branch may be closed for good.

By the way, the closure sign says the Carnegie will reopen Jan. 2. Don’t bet on it. Jan. 2 happens to be a Tuesday, and on Tuesdays the downtown branch is closed. (hh)

10 responses to “Downtown library: When the doors are closed”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Hey, the Library currently has 21 FTEs. This hasn’t increased for many years.

    The City Manager has increased over the past several years from 8 FTEs to 9 going to 10 when the new Assistant City Manager is hired in 2024.

    It’s a simple matter of priorities.

  2. Kristin Roisen says:

    I loved going to this library as a small child my mom would take me to check out Little Black Sambo and would read it to me .. I eventually kept checking the book out and hope they never close it has a lot of memories for kids who grew up here ,

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      ….as a small child my mom would take me to check out Little Black Sambo and would read it to me .. I eventually kept checking the book out…..

      Were you expecting a different outcome?

  3. Hartman says:

    This piece is a perfect example of passive-aggressive behavior.

  4. HD DeBolt says:

    I think the city purposely limits hours at the Carnegie location, so it will result in lower tracked usage. They’ve been threatening to close this location for years, and use it for office space or something else. I also don’t believe their excuse about “staffing”. If they are short on staff, why don’t they have any positions posted for library staff, or any of the other departments that they use this same excuse for? With school out, this would be the perfect time for kids & families to utilize the library. With the fire/smoke repairs that closed the main branch children’s area, I didn’t see that they moved the scheduled activities to the Carnegie (they just cancelled any of the ones that we asked about). I hope the citizens of Albany protect this piece of history, and fight to make sure it maintains its intended purpose.

  5. Susan says:

    The main was closed too, several times now, when it was supposed to be Open per the doors. Even when the recording said it was Open. Not even the courtesy of a sign on the door.

  6. David Cross says:

    “closing during a school vacation tells the public that sooner or later, this conveniently located branch may be closed for good” serves only to tell the public you want see someone’s ox gored because you were briefly inconvenienced.

  7. CHEZZ says:

    Keep this classic Library open! Maybe they can have volunteer docents give some tours of this beautiful piece of architecture! It requires some special care and attention. Be the Library hugger! This Library could even be on summer historical tours! I took my book loving cousins to see this Library – they were in Library Heaven!

  8. chris j says:

    Well the city manager received a raise and I am sure he can find a better use of the library than educating and elevating the residents of Albany. Nothing makes people with power more justified in ignoring the masses than our lack of awareness of their harmful actions and the lack of education to understand how badly they manage the government.
    Ignorance is not bliss, it is demoralizing and allows the erosion of civilized behavior.

  9. Laura Bewley says:

    I think the old saying “where there is a will there is a way”. The library may have 21 FTE’s there is no reason between those 2 locations you can’t keep it running 5-7 days a week since Covid the open hours for both locations has been severely cut and is limited. I am sure there are also volunteers to rely on and if not why??
    Just because it’s a public institution doesn’t mean you don’t have to think smart on how to be open, the private sectors do it all the time public sector just uses as a crutch for more money!


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