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Library puts out feelers
Both the Sequim School District and the Sequim Library are on a needs-to-know basis.
The North Olympic Library System’s board of trustees approved a partnership with SHKS Architects of Seattle to see what the community needs are for the Sequim branch. This follows the schools’ decision in March to hire BLRB Architects to help gather information on its school buildings for a possible bond proposal as well. SHKS could earn upwards of $32,000 to analyze Sequim Library’s next steps, too.
Paula Barnes, NOLS executive director, said there’s been a common feeling in Sequim for as long she’s lived here that the library is too small.
“We’ve never done a coherent, comprehensive
examination of why we need a bigger library,” she said.
The 6,000-square-foot library, part of a system with Port Angeles, Forks and Clallam Bay, was built and opened in 1983 and renovated in 2009.
Barnes said SHKS will assess the building and site beginning in late April or May before holding community meetings and conducting a survey going out in the late spring or summer.
Their study and recommendations compiled from this data are tentatively slated for October or November. They’ll forecast population and usage for 30 years and outreach to stakeholders and the community to create a vision for the library.
If a new building is an option, the architects will help determine the proper building size, evaluate the feasibility of expanding the existing library and/or building new on the existing site or identify and test alternative sites.
NOLS doesn’t own any other property in Sequim except the lots where the parking lot and existing library sit and the lot behind the Sequim branch where the Friends of the Library operate their monthly book sale and the Summer Reading Program.
“It’s a long and narrow lot,” Barnes said. “It’s big, but the widths are what concern us. You can’t even drive all the way around without going off the property.”
Going the logical route is where she and trustees hope to go, she said.
“With technology changing so much, what are the library’s needs going to be?” Barnes asked.
“One of the things making this particularly urgent is that the Sequim Library is regularly circulating as many if not more items than Port Angeles in less than one-third of the space.”
Looking at February’s circulation numbers, Sequim’s 13,544 visitors scanned about 40 percent of NOLS’ checkouts and renewals with 32,277 items processed. In Port Angeles, 18,355 visitors in February checked out and renewed 36,009 items.
This trend remains true in recent years with Sequim sometimes surpassing Port Angeles’ totals from month-to-month.
With trustees looking to finalize the contract with SHKS Architects in the coming weeks, Barnes said the tentative $32,000 contract may not be that large. Some of those funds allow for extra costs if needed, such as holding an extra community meeting.
Trustees instructed Barnes to stop the process if work is completed sooner than expected.
“They instructed me not to spend money on consultants unnecessarily,” she said. “If we do find that we need to build a bigger library, we want to do it with as little money as possible.”
SHKS was one of three firms to submit proposals but one of them failed to meet prerequisites.
As far as saving money and research time with consultants, Barnes said there’s been consideration of partnering in some capacity with the Sequim School District about its needs assessment, too.
“It’s two complementary but different interests,” she said. “If there’s a way to reduce redundancy, then we want to do it.”
In a previous interview, Barnes said if Sequim were to build a new library, NOLS would propose creating a Library Capital Facilities Area, likely following the boundaries of the Sequim School District, and asking those voters to support funding the building by passing a bond issue.
The bond discussion tentatively would develop in 2014 with potential for the issue going to the ballot in August or November 2015.
Look for announcements in the Gazette, at the library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., and online at www.nols.org. For more information on the needs and facility assessment, contact Paula Barnes at 417-8500 ext. 7715 or at email@example.com.