Consultants share Sequim Library survey results

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Most patrons of the Sequim Library want a larger library collection and more space in which to enjoy books and other materials, consultants said, based on two community meetings and a two-month survey.

The meetings and survey were part of an effort led by the North Olympic Library System, which manages the Sequim Library at 630 N. Sequim Ave., to determine what the roughly 29,000 people the library serves want in a new space.

Consultants with SHKS Architects and Berk Consulting, both based in Seattle, presented information gleaned from the community meeting and survey to trustees last week, said Paula Barnes, library system director.

“This study was to look at the capability of the existing building to meet current and future needs [and] to determine what size library can fit on the existing site,” Barnes said, adding that the study looked at predicted library needs 30 years from now.

Trustees took no action concerning the possibility of a new library at the Thursday meeting, Barnes said.

Barnes said the earliest the board would take any formal action about moving forward with a new library would likely be in December, possibly during a special meeting, or in January.

“That will be where they will be facing the first big decision: go forward with a larger branch or not,” Barnes said.

Barnes said the survey — to which 339 people responded, with a median age of 64 of those who responded — and community meeting results showed patrons want a larger selection of books, e-books DVDs and CDs and a library space large enough to separate conflicting uses.

The existing 6,000-square-foot library is small enough for people typing on computers, for example, to disturb others nearby trying to read or study, Barnes explained.

A larger library also would allow the Sequim’s Library’s existing collection to be displayed more effectively, Barnes said.

Collection space is such a premium now that books have to be placed on the highest and lowest shelves, making it harder for the elderly or those with disabilities to access them.

“So even though we have the collection, it’s not accessible,” Barnes said.

The consultants’ report estimated that the 29,300 people in the Sequim School District, which is the target audience, would grow to about 34,000 people in 30 years, Barnes said.

The consultants used a 0.5-square-foot-per-person average library size, used in library systems similar in size to the North Olympic system, to estimate a 34,000 population would be best served by a library about 17,000 square feet, Barnes explained.

“Now whether or not the library would actually need to be that big, or need to be bigger, that would not actually be determined until the actual design process begins,” Barnes said, adding that a 20,000-square-foot library could theoretically fit where the current library stands.

“This study was never intended to bring us into design.”

The consultants’ presentation did not include cost estimates for a new library and was not expected to, Barnes said, though she said she hopes ballpark figures will be ready for library board review by the end of the year.

“There would almost certainly be a [voter-approved] bond issue accompanied with a capital campaign,” Barnes said, referring to how a new library could potentially be funded.

“Public money can’t do it alone, private money can’t do it alone.”

The North Olympic Library System also managed the public libraries in Port Angeles, Forks and Clallam Bay.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 29. 2013 6:27PM
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