Library improvements a go

The Sequim Library is scheduled to close this winter for about six to eight weeks in order to get a new look.

After negotiations with the architect, North Olympic Library System director Paula Barnes said the remodel is estimated to cost about $388,000 with the possible addition of a $36,000 expense for hooking up to the city's sewer line.

"Our talks with the architects went well," Barnes said. "We worked out a great plan to get more room and a better layout within the space we already have."

In early 2008, the library system board of trustees determined the remodel to be the preferred alternative to putting a bond in front of voters for an expansion of the branch.

The project is expected to go out for bids from contractors either this or next week. The construction is scheduled to begin in mid-December. The library likely will reopen in February.

The library system staff is looking into possible alternative sites for limited Sequim-area services, but the costs associated with the temporary site may make it a prohibitively costly plan. Staff also is looking into other ways to offer limited services while the branch is closed, such as a short period of time people would be able to pick up or drop off reserved materials at the branch.

The library design will have all new furniture, paint, carpet and floors, among other improvements.

"There will be a new and improved children's and young adult section," Barnes said. "Plus we will reorganize things so that things will be easier to find and to make a more spacious atmosphere."

Shelves are being taken out and replaced in a different layout to allow more natural light from the windows and skylights to fill the branch.

Many deferred maintenance projects also will be part of the remodel. Some have been completed already, such as the replacement of a heat pump and maintenance to the skylights.

"The sewer connection is an important one that is new to the plan," Barnes said.

The library's septic tank is 16 years old and is not in the best condition.

The library recently weeded out generally unused or overly tattered materials to make room for new or replacement books. Barnes said the replacement and acquisition of new materials will be done over a longer period of time than the remodel.

"It's not something that's going to happen right away, it's just something we think will happen to the branch over time," Barnes said.

Barnes said the library system generally is looking into the future to meet the needs of its patrons. For instance, she said the expanded library still is a viable option for the future because schematics incorporated the existing structure into the newer library.

But before floating a bond to expand the Sequim Library, the library system may choose to ask voters for a levy increase in order to expand services at all of its branches, including Sequim. A timeline for the levy increase request is not available as the board opted to hold off from asking voters for the money on the 2008 ballots.

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