The long-awaited expansion and renovation of the busy Sequim Library took another step toward completion in late August with the selection of SHKS Architects to lead the design of the approximate $5 million project.
And while it isn’t what library leaders were hoping for in a 2018 bond measure that would have expanded the facility to nearly three times its size, Noah Glaude, executive director for the North Olympic Library System, said staff is enthused.
“We’re excited about it,” he said last week. “(This project) is a much better use of the space.”
The project looks to add about 2,000 square feet to the existing 6,000-square-foot building, adding study space, more room for computers, energy efficient systems, improved safety/emergency exits for the meeting room, an enlarged staffing area and more accessible bathrooms.
“A lot of the design is to be determined, (but) it will be a complete renovation — and expansion and renovation. We’re really stripping out the entire building and starting fresh,” Glaude said.
Tentative milestones would see design of the expansion/renovation completed by SHKS Architects — the same firm that designed the major expansion in 2018 that would have enlarged the facility to about 17,000 square feet — this winter. Glaude said the contract with SHKS should be in place by the Sept. 23 library board meeting.
According to NOLS’ initial timeline, construction documents, bids and the construction itself starting in 2022, with construction complete as early as spring 2023.
The library system, which oversees its main building in Port Angeles along with branches in Sequim, Forks and Clallam Bay, applied for a $2 million matching grant from the Library Capital Improvement Program Grant administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce in May 2020. A year later that grant came to fruition when Gov. Jay Inslee approved the Washington State 2021-23 Capital Budget in May 2021.
Created by state legislators in their 2019 regular session, the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Library Capital Improvement Program (LCIP) looks to “assist libraries operated by governmental units, to acquire, construct or rehabilitate their facilities,” according to the Commerce website.
Those funds, along with $2 million from NOLS reserves that board trustees approved in May, make up about 80 percent of the overall project cost, with about $1 million still to be raised, Glaude said. (The overall expansion/renovation cost, initially expected to be about $4.8 million, is yet to be determined and would include materials, labor and design fees.)
The additional fundraising would come in the form of a capital campaign expected to be rolled out later this fall, he said, possibly by December. Once an actual design is in hand, the public can expect to hear more about a campaign, he noted.
“We’ve been receiving donations already,” Glaude said. “That’s kind of pumped us up.”
Donations can be made online through the NOLS website at nols.org, or through the North Olympic Library Foundation.
With construction possibly lasting for the better part of a year, he said NOLS staff are currently seeking a new, temporary home to house library materials, staff and services.
“We’re still in the process of identifying a location,” Glaude said.
“We would offer as much service as we could,” he added, but events and programs could depend on location and partnerships with other organizations.
“It (the future home) is difficult to know right now with COVID,” Glaude said.
Port Angeles sees more computer use based on the fact it has more computers to use safely compared to Sequim, Glaude noted — “we can’t do that (computer access) in Sequim and we know there’s that need,” he said — and Sequim branch users have more material holds placed than any other, he said.
Volunteers will be needed later this year to support additional fundraising efforts, library officials noted.
For more information about donations and volunteer efforts, email to Sequim@nols.org or call 360-683-1161, x7765.
Sequim branch background
For the better part of 20 years, NOLS officials have been trying to mitigate the increased usage of the library at 630 N. Sequim Ave.
Since well before 2014, when they began making the Sequim Library a top priority for future projects, NOLS officials have considered options for addressing the space constraints at the 6,050-square-foot building that opened in 1983.
Putting funds into and setting public meetings for a ballot measure in November 2018, the board of trustees put two propositions before voters: Proposition 1, that would create a Library Capital Facilities Area, and Proposition 2, asking for $12.4 million in bonds to build a 17,000-square-foot library.
Proposition 1 passed with 65.4 percent despite only needing a simple majority, while Proposition 2 failed with 58.6 percent in favor and not meeting the required 60 percent supermajority.
Library leaders said it needed 257 more “yes” votes to pass.
In February 2019, the board of trustees unanimously voted to put expansion discussions back on the shelf until at least 2021.
After the COVID-19 outbreak led NOLS to close its facilities to the public in March 2020, the library system began offering remote services and online resources. Curbside library service began in June.
The Sequim Library became NOLS’ busiest branch, receiving 26 percent more patron visits between June and December 2020 than the 30,000-square-foot main NOLS branch in Port Angeles.
The Sequim branch was too small and outdated to serve the growing population even before the COVID outbreak, NOLS officials said.