North Olympic Library System to create citizen panel to mull Sequim building options

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– The North Olympic Library System, which oversees public libraries in Clallam County, will form a citizen advisory panel to guide its decision to replace the building housing the Sequim branch.

“The board is very concerned about getting community input from as broad a swath as possible before we get too far into it,” said Paula Barnes, library system director.

The board also allocated $60,000 to enlist an architect to usher the panel through its decision of whether to replace the 31-year-old current building at 630 N. Sequim Ave. when it met in Sequim on Thursday.

The library board has been reviewing the possibility of a new building for the Sequim Library for more than a year.

In February, a report by SKHS architects of Seattle found the library could build a 17,150-square-foot building with 58 code-required parking spaces on its current lot for an estimated $7 million.

“But we want this panel to consider all possible options,” Barnes said.

“The idea is to come up with a more defined idea of what the functional areas of the library would be.”

The board also discussed last Thursday the possibility of a new library that could be built in conjunction with the Sequim School District and shared between the high school and North Olympic Library System.

“To our knowledge, that’s something that’s never been done in the state of Washington,” Superintendent Kelly Shea said.

Barnes noted schools and libraries have combined on shared buildings to some success in California, but the idea is complicated by the school’s concerns over student security and that some library patrons “may feel icky” about having to go to the school to use the library.

Barnes said the library district has considered a shared space for the new library for some time.

She said they originally thought about siting a new library in the city’s new City Hall.

“But they were on a fast track and we weren’t even close to ready to make a decision,” Barnes said.

A potential complication is Barnes’ pending retirement.

Margaret Jakubcin, assistant director since 2007, will take over as the library system’s director when Barnes retires July 4.

“We’re kind of at this tricky stage where I’m going to be retiring,” Barnes said.

“What do we want to put on Margaret as she steps into the job?”

Jakubcin told the board she would be able to pick up the planning process of the new library when she takes over and would be able to begin the design process of whatever the citizen panel comes up with within the next year.

“But we were nice enough not to make her commit too far before she took over,” Barnes said.

In 2013, patrons of the Sequim branch checked out 395,419 items from the library’s collection, about 40 percent of the library system’s overall circulation.

That trails only the Port Angeles Library, which is nearly three times larger than the Sequim Library.

In its first year of 1982, users circulated 114,933 items at the Sequim Library.

The North Olympic Library System also oversees public libraries in Forks and Clallam Bay.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 27. 2014 5:57PM
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