Salem City Librarian Kim Carroll is leaving after just 13 months on the job, having worked to make the library fine free and resume pre-pandemic levels of service.
Carroll has accepted a new position as the director of the Beaverton City Library, making her last day at the helm of Salem’s library June 1. She announced her resignation via email to City Manager Keith Stahley on May 3, and informed library staff a week later.
The city will again be hiring for a new top librarian for the second time in two years.
Kathy Knock, president of AFSCME Local 2067 which represents Salem’s library workers, said library staff are concerned about short staffing and another leadership transition, especially following an expansion of hours May 1.
“Many staff are worn out with all the management changes, training of new staff, learning new jobs. The expansion of hours is one more push to do more with less. Of course, this is not isolated to the library. Staff all over the city are having to cover for vacant positions and train new staff,” Knock said.
Deputy City Librarian Bridget Esqueda will lead the library meantime, Carroll said.
Carroll worked as deputy city librarian and was hired in April 2021 before moving into the city librarian position a year later. She said the transition to Beaverton has brought mixed emotions.
“It’s hard to leave. This is a really good opportunity for me professionally, but I feel really good about the management team that we have here,” she said.
In Beaverton, Carroll will oversee the third busiest library system in the state, serving a population of 148,000 according to their website.
The biggest factor for the move was that her siblings live in the Beaverton area, she said, and her parents will move up with her to be closer to them in the coming years.
She also enjoys the area of Beaverton, and said the city staff are doing innovative programming and services that interest her. The library has a Library on Wheels outreach programs, community bookshelves and recently opened a makerspace.
Her tenure in Salem focused on bringing better access to materials, information and experiences to the community, which she said was accomplished because of the team.
Most recently, the library completed its purchases for its “library of things” collection which allows patrons to check out ukuleles, baking dishes, tools and more. A highlight for Carroll are the Wi-Fi enabled laptops that allow people to access the internet for free.
The Friends of the Library now sponsors cultural passes, allowing Salemites free access to arts and culture spaces in the area, such as the Willamette Heritage Center and Hallie Ford Museum of Art.
“Just having access to those kinds of things is pretty amazing and to come back and be able to offer those new services is really exciting,” she said.
The library also went fine-free last July, meaning no more late fees for checkouts.
“I think it just removes a huge barrier for people using the library, and so to be part of a library system that was able to do that, I feel very proud,” she said.
The library also added curbside service and library lockers, providing faster access to materials.
The hiring process for Carroll’s successor will be led by Scott Archer, the newly hired deputy city manager of community services, she said.
Carroll said the library will be in good hands with existing leadership and Esqueda, who led the “library of things” project and the charros outfit exhibit and its supporting programs celebrating Mexican culture.
Whoever Carroll’s successor will be will step into the role as the city grapples with revenue issues.
The Beaverton library’s budget is double Salem’s at $12.4 million, but also considering cuts to address budget shortfalls, KGW reported. Carroll said the library’s larger budget was not really a factor in the job decision for her.
“You never know when your library is going to be underfunded or well-funded. It’s not ever a given. Maybe it looks like a better budget today, but it may not look like a better budget tomorrow,” she said.
Carroll said the Salem library is in the process of hiring for two vacancies, and will be posting a notice soon for a third.
She said the library is also working to hire high schoolers as program aids, and interns who will receive additional training in operations beyond shelving books.
In the coming years, Carroll hopes that the main Salem library will be able to be open seven days a week. She also looks forward to seeing the infrastructure bond-funded additional branch locations, and hopes for more neighborhood locations in the future.
“This has been a wonderful experience for me, and I’m just so humbled to be part of this group of people here at the library and in the city,” she said. “And I’ve met so many wonderful people in the community as well. I’m just really thankful that I was given this opportunity and you know, it is I do leave with mixed emotions, but I also leave knowing that Salem will go on to do great things.”
Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.
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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.