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Sweet Home Library Director Rose Peda, left, and former State Librarian MaryKay Dahlgreen, during a 75th anniversary celebration for the library in September 2017. The Sweet Home City Council has approved a project to assess the library's future needs. 

SWEET HOME — Can the 50-year-old building that houses the Sweet Home Public Library be renovated to meet modern service needs, or is it time to consider constructing a new building?

The Sweet Home City Council agreed Tuesday that it is time to research that topic, giving Library Director Rose Peda approval to contract for a needs assessment. Peda has headed up the community’s library services for eight years.

“We have only one electrical outlet where patrons can use their electronic devices without creating a tripping hazard due to a cord on the floor,” Peda told the council members. “It’s not conducive to a library atmosphere.”

Peda added that library programs are popular, often attracting up to 100 children and parents, but the meeting area for such programs is too small.

Other needs include adding meeting rooms, changing the front entrance of the building and replacing single-pane windows that are energy-inefficient.

The city has supported a public library since 1942, when the community had just 1,090 residents. It was originally housed in the basement of City Hall and was about 1,200 square feet in size.

In 1969, the community moved the library to its current building at the corner of 13th Avenue and Kalmia. The building encompasses 5,825 square feet and cost $166,000.

The library is supported by a tax levy of $1.17 per $1,000 property valuation.

Peda notes in a letter to prospective assessment service applicants that over the last 50 years library services have expanded greatly — about 40,000 circulation per year — yet space has remained static. The summer reading program alone hosts more than 500 children annually, Peda noted.

The library has three staff members and is open 36 hours per week. In addition to hand-copy materials, the library provides electronic access for patrons to more than 30,000 titles and is a partner in the Linn Libraries Consortium.

Peda says the library needs a dedicated children’s area, young adults area, study rooms and upgrading of the electrical system and energy efficiencies. The building could use a facelift and removal of stairs for increased accessibility.

Requests for proposals will be due April 15 and the long-term plan is to receive the completed needs assessment materials by June 11.

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Remodeling or new building construction would be set for summer of 2020.

In other business Tuesday, the council:

• Learned that although prices will increase slightly at the transfer center, Sweet Home Sanitation does not plan to increase monthly service fees. Company representative Brian White updated the council on the recycling crisis, noting that options have not improved over the past year.

• Approved a contract update for City Manager Ray Towry, increasing his severance pay to four months base pay, plus one month for every year of employment to a maximum of 12 months, plus accrued vacation benefits.

• Was told by police Sgt. Jason Van Eck that there is an issue with speeding vehicles in the downtown business district; the department plans to conduct programs to education the public about safety concerns.

• Reappointed Nancy Patton to the Parks and Tree Committee and Gerritt Schaffer to the Budget Committee.

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Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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