The North Olympic Library System plans to keep its capital costs modest in 2020.
Paving a portion of the parking lot in Port Angeles and painting the Friends of Sequim Library’s book sale buildings are targeted as some of the bigger projects between NOLS’ four branches that include Clallam Bay and Forks.
Board of trustees approved a $347,450 capital budget on Jan 23.
The decision follows their unanimous approval of a $4.96 million 2020 operations budget on Nov. 21.
Library staff budgeted $80,000 for paving, which Library Director Margaret Jakubcin said could be done this summer for the “badly deteriorated heavy traffic zone.”
Staff will continue to replace carpeting in Port Angeles’ branch this year, too.
Jakubcin said it’s been a multi-year project to replace the 20-plus-year-old carpet.
“It’s such a big space that we’ve done it in little chunks to try and not disrupt operations,” she said.
A timeline hasn’t been set for painting the Sequim Friends’ exterior buildings behind the Sequim Library, but Jakubcin said they’ll collaborate with its volunteers to make a schedule.
The building is owned by NOLS, and Friends’ volunteers operate a monthly book sale to benefit the library’s Summer Reading Program and speakers.
Last week, the Friends’ group donated $24,000 toward programming at the Sequim branch.
Liz Phelps, Friends of Sequim Library’s treasurer, said the group is “pleasantly thrilled” to hear about the new coat of paint.
Jakubcin wrote in the Jan. 23 Capital Budget staff report that NOLS “expended very sparingly for building and structure improvements at the (Sequim) facility (but) following the failure of the November 2018 bond measure, which would have funded replacement of the existing building, this budgeting approach has been adjusted as appropriate to address support continued use of this facility for longer time period than previously hoped.”
Trustees voted last February to wait until at least 2021 to pursue expansion at the Sequim Library again following a 2018 General Election vote; a $12.4 million bond to build a 17,000-square-foot library failed to meet the 60 percent supermajority, with 58.6 percent.
Jakubcin said they are looking into “long-term-temporary” mechanisms to help the facility for the next five to 10 years.
In an interview, Jakubcin said staff continue to explore ways to cope with the Sequim branch’s existing space. Even if the library system pursue another bond, she said, it’d be at least four or five years until a new space would replace the 1983 building.
“We’re looking at how can we make better use of space,” she said.
One example would be using a modular building.
“Our work space is very small, so something to provide a lunch room or an office would make operations more functional,” Jakubcin said.
“(Sequim Branch Manager Emily Sly) has continued to see how we can create a flexible work space, but there aren’t too many options.”
More on Projects
A majority of NOLS”s 2020 capital budget — $217,650 — will go to machinery and equipment, such as updating and licensing the library system’s information technology, and purchasing a hybrid van ($45,000) to transport materials six days a week at the four branches.
Jakubcin wrote in her report that about $154,000 of unspent capital projects from 2019 are transferred to reserves for this year because of deferred computer/network projects.
Library staff said they don’t anticipate using the full capital budgets this year either for several reasons, such as priority changes, alternative revenues coming in and not using emergency funds.
The library system’s Port Angeles Capital Reserve, a 1997 fund established with construction of the Port Angeles’ branch, contributed $100,000 to this year’s capital budget.
Library staff said they anticipate its remainder at about $879,000 to be used in the coming years to replace the Port Angeles branch’s HVAC system and roof.
Visits and checkouts were down last year because of winter storms, NOLS staff said.
Assistant Library Director Noah Glaude reported on Jan. 23 that patron visits declined 1 percent from 2018-2019, and material checkouts were down 3 percent.
He wrote in his 2019 report the decline came “when weeks of inclement weather closed NOLS locations for several full and partial days, and patrons has difficulty reaching the Library.”
“Compared to 2018, patron visits were down nearly 10 percent in the first quarter of 2019, but visits were up the rest of the year,” he wrote.
“Similarly, checkouts and renewals were down significantly more during the first half of the year than the second half.”
Other NOLS 2019 usage statistics include:
• Public computer use went down 9,000 hours in 2019, or 12 percent from 2018. The continued decline dates back to 2017.
• Wi-Fi use went up, with patrons accessing it 71,252 times in 2019 at the four branches.
• Summer Reading Challenge participants rose 17 percent, to 3,560 people.
This year, NOLS staff plan initiatives to increase usage, such a library card campaign and to continue others such as remaining fine-free.
For more information about NOLS, visit www.nols.org or call the Port Angeles branch at 360-417-8500 or Sequim at 360-683-1161.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.