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Renovation rather than expansion for library
Come November, voters will not see any ballot requests from the North Olympic Library System.
The library system had decided to put off a proposed 2008 levy increase to help fund operations but the question of the Sequim branch's future lingered in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley air.
A citizens advisory committee, appointed in December 2007 to study options for the Sequim branch, had two alternatives on the table - expansion or renovation.
Expansion would cost millions and require the library system to ask Sequim School District area voters to pay for a construction bond. But given the current state of the economy, the lack of widespread public awareness and dwindling use of the Sequim branch, the advisory committee chose not to put the bond on the fall 2008 or the spring 2009 ballot.
Instead, the committee chose to recommend renovating the existing library building.
"I'm pleased that the decision not to move forward on the expansion bond includes a plan for a possible renovation and an eventual expansion," library system director Paula Barnes said. "I think renovation will cause the library system to make the most out of that building."
Jim Roberts, chairman of the advisory committee, noted in his April 24 presentation to the NOLS board that the library system already had decided to delay a request for a levy increase and said the committee supports the decision and advised doing the same for the Sequim expansion bond. The board voted unanimously to approve the committee's findings.
The face-lift would include reorganization, new paint, new furniture, new signage and new additions to the library's collection. The board asked the library system staff to draw up preliminary numbers and funding options to get the renovations finished, which included a possible partnership with the Friends of the Sequim Library.
"My next task now is to coordinate with the Sequim Friends and see how we can work together to get this renovation funded and complete," Barnes said.
Library staff will present a funding recommendation during the library system board meeting at 5 p.m., Thursday, May 22, at the Port Angeles branch, 2210 S. Peabody St.
Other committee recommendations asked the system board to increase the effectiveness of the local library, raising future voter support for expansion.
"While we decided not to go for the bond, the renovation is something we can't ignore," committee member Don Hall said. "Also, not as many people are visiting the Sequim branch as before, so we wanted to do some things through the library to bring up those numbers as well as the branch's presence in the community."
Recommendations include setting a calendar of literary, cultural, educational and civic events to bring people into the library and increase its presence in people's lives. The committee suggested pairing fundraising efforts with awareness-raising efforts so a future library expansion could be funded through a public-private partnership rather than through a voter-approved bond alone.
"I myself had city experience - as did Frank Needham, who I requested to be on the committee," Hall said. "Plus we had representation from the (Jamestown S'Klallam) tribe, NOLS, the Friends of the Sequim Library and the schools, so we really started to see options for moving forward that were different than just a bond this fall."
Hall said he'd like to see partnerships between the library, Peninsula College and the city of Sequim, which is looking at how to build a new city hall.
"We're known for our partnerships around here," Hall said. 'Who knows what we can get done for cheaper if we work together, which is why waiting is a pretty good idea for now."
For more information on the North Olympic Library System, its board or the Sequim branch, visit www.nols.org or call NOLS at 417-8504. The Sequim branch is located at 630 N. Sequim Ave. and can be reached at 683-1161.
Findings from the Citizens Advisory Committee on the future of the Sequim Library:
� A capital bond election should not be held in 2008 or spring 2009
� Highest priority should be physical improvements to existing library
� Staff should offer a calendar of events to raise public awareness of the library
� NOLS should pursue a campaign to develop awareness of and support for the branch
� Coordinate awareness campaign with fundraising strategy
� NOLS should appoint an advisory group to continue research into options