Off the Shelf: Let’s talk about the library

Friendly. Busy. Cozy. Crowded. These are a few of the words that have been used to describe the current Sequim Library facility.

The branch was originally built in 1983 when US Highway 101 traveled through downtown Sequim on Washington Street and the population of Sequim and surrounding area was a fraction of what it is today.

The North Olympic Library System is working with the community to find a solution to the aging and over-crowded library facility that serves the Sequim-Dungeness Valley area.

This fall, library staff, community residents, business owners, service organizations and local leaders have been engaged in an ongoing conversation about this project.

While chatting about library facility needs, people frequently mention favorite libraries from their past or their travels. They speak with fondness, as they describe the things they love about those library buildings.

Some of the memorable libraries mentioned by community members include: Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library in Kansas, Orcas Island Library, Bozeman Public Library in Montana, the Des Moines Public Library in Iowa, North Pole Branch Library in Alaska and the Singapore National Library in Singapore.

What makes these library spaces so great? Here’s a few of the attributes frequently noted: Plenty of comfortable seating. Lots of elbow room between public computers. Quiet reading areas. A large meeting room. Small group conference or study rooms. An activity space for kids. Teen-friendly spaces. Art galleries and display areas.

Well-loved libraries often reflect the aesthetic values of the community as well. For example, the Orcas Island Library feels very “Pacific Northwest” with the integration of natural wood and plenty of natural light that illuminates the space.

A library is much more than a place of books, a venue for programs, or a place to go for information or assistance. The building itself helps define the library and the community experience.

Every library has a unique feel, a character, which reflects the value a community places on literacy and lifelong learning, free and open access to information, civic discourse, diversity and, ultimately, democracy.

NOLS is currently in Phase 2, the Conceptual Development Phase, of the Sequim Branch Library expansion project. Phase 2 activities will help NOLS determine community priorities for an expanded library, produce a schematic design, and develop a solid cost estimate.

NOLS wants to build a library that is of the community, not just in the community. All community members are encouraged to share their vision for the future of the Sequim Library.

Learn more at; click on the Sequim Expansion Project link at the bottom of the page.

I’d be happy to sit down and have a conversation, hearing your perspective about the future of the Sequim Branch Library.

Stop by the library at 630 N. Sequim Ave., call 360-683-1161 or send an email to

Emily Sly is the North Olympic Library System’s Sequim branch manager.

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