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Library surveys community about branch’s future

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by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

The North Olympic Library System wants your opinion about what to do next with its facility.

 

To start, NOLS hosts a survey to gauge the community’s interest in the Sequim Library.

 

An online survey is available at www.nols.org — with hard copies in the library at 630 N. Sequim Ave. — tentatively through the third week of July.

 

Library officials said the survey started about two weeks ago and more than 30 people have responded. The survey asks about usage, opinions on libraries as a whole and specifically

Sequim’s, services and what users would like to expand.

 

Lauren Dahlgren, Sequim branch manager, said the purpose of the survey is to determine what the Sequim community wants from the library.

 

“We want to know and meet the needs of our community,” she said.

 

Part of the visioning process is a July 9 community meeting from 6-8 p.m. in the library led by SHKS Architects of Seattle. A second community meeting will be held sometime in August.

 

Dahlgren said the community meeting is part of the first phase of the visioning process, which includes a feasibility study of developing a new library.

 

At the visioning meeting, SHKS and BERK Consulting will discuss the scope of the feasibility study and the timeline, present the progress and facilitate a conversation about the future of the library.

 

A preliminary report from SHKS is expected by late October or mid-November.

 

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 alternative sites.

 

Paula Barnes, NOLS executive director, said the current lot is big but the width might be too narrow for new development and traffic.

 

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.

 

Dahlgren said input from the survey and meetings are an important part of developing these ideas.

 

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, about 29,000, 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.

 

Dahlgren said the library has increasingly become a focal point of the Sequim-Dungeness community.

“I can’t tell you how many people come in and tell us we need more space,” she said. “Every week more and more people are getting library cards.”

 

The Sequim branch was constructed in 1983 and remodeled in 2009.

 

Last year, Sequim circulated about 423,000 items in 5,800 square feet whereas the Port Angeles Library circulated 462,000 items in 26,000 square feet, not counting administration offices.

 

Compared to 2011, Sequim’s circulation rose more than 15,000 items in 2012 and the library saw 173,289 visitors over the year. The library holds about 56,000 books and other materials and 21 public computers.

 

Dahlgren feels Sequim’s needs are more space for meetings and programs.

 

Sequim hosted 251 programs in 2012 and nearly 7,000 visitors and its lone meeting room was used 348 times by just over 4,100 people.

 

But it comes down to needing more room, Dahlgren said: “At least once a month, we get a suggestion card asking for a larger space.”
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