Port Townsend Library returning home to Carnegie building with soft-opening Sunday
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Kit Ward-Crixell, left, the newly hired Port Townsend Library children services librarian, goes through a stack of books with technical services director Keith Darrock. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — After more than two years in Mountain View Commons, the Port Townsend Library will return to its Carnegie location this weekend.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said technical services director Keith Darrock, who is managing the move.

“There have been no major problems,” he said.

“Books are going on the shelves, and we are almost ready to go.”

A celebratory “soft opening” at the renovated 100-year-old building at 1220 Lawrence St. is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Music, a book signing and tours of the new space are planned.

“People are really jazzed and looking forward to coming back,” Darrock said.

The temporary location at Mountain View Commons, 1919 Blaine St., which had housed the library since April 2012, was closed July 14 in preparation for the move.

Several contractors are on site this week at the library to finish electricity, shelving, networking and carpentry tasks.

Darrock said the library will be mostly complete by the opening, although some finish carpentry will be done later in August.

Landscaping funded by the Friends of the Library has already taken place, which “makes the building look better than it has in years,” Darrock said.

The entire renovation is being completed for less than $150,000 because of volunteer labor and discounts, Darrock has said.

Voters defeated a proposed $3 million general obligation bond in August 2013.

The reconfiguration includes a new children’s room in the space once occupied by the fiction collection, spiced up with a salmon sculpture donated by Port Townsend artist Max Grover.

The general collection is in the former children’s space. A new “young adult” room with computers and special displays has been added.

The circulation area has been shortened. Automatic checkout machines have been added.

The upstairs Carnegie space now more resembles its original use: that of a large, open public reading room.

During renovation, it was determined that the room could no longer bear the weight of previous collections, prompting all of the shelves to be placed on load-bearing beams.

These shorter shelves also make the room appear larger because they do not obstruct the views of the window, Darrock said.

The library now has 15 public computers. Use is limited to two hours daily.

Library patrons with their own computers will have unlimited online access through an enhanced wireless network.

Darrock said a signal boost provides free, unrestricted Wi-Fi to the area outside of the library and the fire station.

The main entrance of the library will remain on the Harrison Street. The entrance on Lawrence Street is not accessible for those with disabilities.

The library opening includes the introduction of children’s service librarian Kit Ward-Crixell, who began her job July 21.

“I haven’t even seen the books yet, but this is really exciting for me,” she said.

“Our role is to help kids find out what their interests are and build on them.

“We want to find the spark, whether it’s art, music or technology, so they can come here and discover what can help them in their jobs and careers.”

As of Sunday, the library will operate from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, visit www.ptpubliclibrary.org or phone 360-385-3181.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 29. 2014 8:22PM
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