Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon »

Visiting the State Library

While most of the State Library's various services are accessible online, there are also some things we can do for you if you chose to visit our building in person. Before you stop by, please review the information below (depending on the purpose of your visit). Please also review the library's Rules of Conduct if you have any questions about appropriate in-building behavior.

Visiting Government Information and Library Services

Public access hours in the Government Room on the second floor are by appointment from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (excepting state holidays). To schedule an appointment, please call 503-378-8800, email, or complete this form. Masks and social distancing are welcome, but not required.

Visiting Library Support and Development Services

Library Support and Development Services staff are available via email and phone. They also offer meetings by appointment – online, phone, or in person in limited circumstances. To schedule an appointment, please contact one of their staff members directly. If you are not sure whom to contact, send your inquiry to or call 503-378-2525.

Visiting the Talking Book and Braille Library

The Talking Book and Braille Library delivers a customized connection to the world for their users, but that customization requires some lead time. In other words, if you visit the library Talking Book and Braille Library staff will be glad to see you but they won’t be able to create a new book cartridge for you while you are here.

To help minimize any potential extra transportation or parking costs, calling ahead the day before you plan to visit the library will ensure you only have to make one trip to pick up a new book cartridge. You can contact the Talking Book and Braille Library at 800-452-0292 or Be sure to mention you plan to pick up your new book cartridge in person; otherwise, it will go out in the mail as usual. The Talking Book and Braille Library is located on the main floor of the building.

National Register of Historic Places

The State Library of Oregon is pleased to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is the first entry accepted under the Oregon New Deal Resources from the Public Works Administration (PWA) or Works Progress Administration (WPA), 1933-1943, Multiple Property Document. It is also the first property on the Capitol Mall listed in the National Register besides the Capitol building itself.

The building has a rich history dating back to 1938. The land had been formerly used for houses, one of which was the Cooke-Patton House, built by Edwin N. Cooke, Oregon’s first State Treasurer. The house was demolished, and construction began in 1938. Once construction was completed in 1939, the building was dedicated as a PWA project and became the first building to be built on what is now the Capitol Mall, after the Capitol itself. The final cost totaled $825,000, including $450,000 from the WPA. Previously, the library had shared quarters with the Supreme Court.

Harriet C. Long was the State Librarian at the time of construction and played a significant role in the project. She had spent 25 years searching and advocating for funding for a separate State Library building, all while expanding library services to rural communities, connecting local writers, and developing a consciousness in “Northwest Literature.” She was one among many female State Librarians, a testament to the role played by women in providing library materials to communities throughout the state.

The building is considered one of the most important architectural designs done by Whitehouse & Church in the New Deal era, and is a prime example of Modernist architecture in Oregon. Carvings done by talented sculptor Gabriel Lavare on the interior and exterior enhance the building and reflect the mission and values of the library itself. One example is the series of beautiful carvings over the mall side exterior doors that allude to the library’s commitment to furthering education. These panels include the owl of wisdom, the tree of knowledge, and the lamp of learning. Nearly all the original carvings remain and can still be viewed throughout and around the building.

Properties listed in the National Register are recognized as significant to the nation, state, or community. In this regard, the State Library was significant during the WPA era for being the only library that served all Oregonians and contributed greatly to education in the state. The library distributed WPA funds to employ somewhere between 120-135 workers to drive bookmobiles, clean and repair books, staff service desks, and do outreach to community organizations. The project lasted through the end of the WPA funding in 1943.

For more a more detailed history of the library, you can read the full NRHP nomination application or check out our State Library history page.

Booking a Conference Room

The State Library maintains two conference rooms for public use on the main floor of the building. Accommodating groups up to 50 people, meetings can take place Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with rates as low as $10 per hour. Please visit our Conference Room page for more information.

Directions to the State Library of Oregon from I-5 Freeway

State Library of Oregon

  • Exit I-5 at exit number 253
  • Take Highway 22 West (City Center)
  • Within city limits, Highway 22 becomes Mission St.
  • Continue west until you take an off ramp to the right at the exit marked Willamette University / City Center
  • Stay in the right lane to merge onto 12th St.
  • Turn left on Court St.
  • The State Library is on the right hand side of the street, on the corner of Court St. and Winter St., across from the State Capitol building

Link to State Library location on Google Maps  

Parking Options

  • City of Salem metered street parking (red lines) is available on the west side of the State Library (Winter St.), as well as on other streets surrounding the Capitol building and the Capitol Mall Park. Pay stations take credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) and coins, but not bills. Parking permits must be displayed on your vehicle's dashboard.
  • State metered parking (blue lines) is available in the underground parking structure below the Capitol Mall. There are 2-hour and 10-hour meters that require quarters. Entrances are from the west or east on Chemeketa St. between Winter St. and Capitol St.
  • There is a gravel parking lot with all day parking for $6.00 at the corner of Winter St. and Center St. Travel north on Winter St. past the State Library, cross Center St., and enter the Yellow lot. A ticket machine accepts debit/credit cards only. Parking permits must be displayed on your vehicle's dashboard. 

Entering the State Library Building

The State Library building has two entrances:

  • the main entrance on the east side of the building directly off the Capitol Mall Park, or
  • the Winter St. entrance on the west side of the building.
Both entrances have accessible ramps and doors.

City Bus Service

Cherriots Bus Service is available within the city of Salem. The main bus terminal is located at High St. and Chemeketa St. (just two blocks west of the State Library). Several routes have stops very near the State Library. Visit the Cherriots website for more information.