Jean Rucker, a 13-year volunteer with Friends of Sequim Library, prepares materials to sell during the Friends’ book sale earlier this year. NOLS staff are preparing a grant application for state funding to enlarge the Sequim Library facility on North Sequim Avenue. Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Jean Rucker, a 13-year volunteer with Friends of Sequim Library, prepares materials to sell during the Friends’ book sale earlier this year. NOLS staff are preparing a grant application for state funding to enlarge the Sequim Library facility on North Sequim Avenue. Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Library system eyes grant for Sequim building expansion

SEQUIM — The North Olympic Library System’s effort in 2018 to convince voters of the need to expand its Sequim Library came up short. Now, library leaders hope to convince state officials of the need for a grant worth up to $2 million.

The system’s board of trustees on May 28 agreed to have staff prepare a grant proposal that would allow for some improvements to the Sequim Library such as more meeting space, ADA-accessible bathrooms and staff area.

Created by state legislators in their 2019 regular session, the state Department of Commerce’s Library Capital Improvement Program (LCIP) aims to “assist libraries operated by governmental units, to acquire, construct or rehabilitate their facilities,” according to the Commerce website.

The state plans to award up to $10 million overall, with the maximum grant to one facility or entity set at $2 million.

The program requires a 50 percent match of the total cost of the project, so the largest project the North Olympic Library System (NOLS) could plan for is a $4 million expansion.

And that total could certainly be less, NOLS executive director Noah Glaude said last week.

“One of the things we told the board (at the May 28) meeting is not to get too attached to these preliminary plans,” Glaude said.

Grant priority, library officials note, is given to library facilities located in distressed or rural counties or listed on historic registers.

Because Clallam County is both a rural and distressed county as defined by the Office of Financial Management, the proposed Sequim Library project would receive “priority consideration,” NOLS officials said.

The grant application is due June 15, with recipients named in the fall and funding (through the sale of state bonds) awarded starting next year through the 2021-23 state capital budget.

NOLS officials called the Library Capital Improvement Program grant “an unexpected, one-time grant opportunity to access additional funding for much-needed improvements to the Sequim branch” and that “it is unknown if or when the grant would be offered again.”

The board of trustees will need to consider what level of financial contribution to commit to the proposed project prior to staff submitting the grant application for an expected special board meeting on Friday.

While it would be significantly less than the $13.4 million plan voters turned down in 2018, the grant would allow for a number of significant improvements at the site, NOLS staff said.

“It’s certainly not what we hoped for,” Glaude said, but the grant opportunity is a positive option, “considering we’ve been facing the pandemic the past couple of months.

“This seemed like a good alternative.”

Peninsula libraries have been closed since mid-March and won’t reopen until Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” plan — at least until mid- to late June.

Eyeing improvements

Library staffers are working with SHKS Architects, the same firm used for the 2018 building design, as consultants to determine cost estimates for the grant proposal.

An ad hoc group of managers convened to consider the grant in recent weeks, and they identified several projects that the grant should pay for, including:

• Additional square footage to allow for adequate spacing of public seating, shelving and staff work areas

• ADA-accessible bathrooms for the public and staff

• Expanded meeting room space

• Improved safety/emergency exits in meeting room

• Additional staff work area (individual offices, storage, improved shared work room space)

“While this level of funding could not solve all of the facility challenges, it would provide an opportunity to address critical problem areas,” NOLS officials noted in the May 28 meeting agenda.

Space was already an issue before the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, NOLS officials noted, so more square footage at the Sequim building is a priority.

“We’re more and more aware of how tight the space is in that building,” Glaude said.

“Sequim is going have an extremely hard time spacing appropriately (with state-mandated distancing guidelines) … compared to our other facilities,” he said.

Sequim branch background

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 facility on North Sequim Avenue — a 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.

“The chances of that (kind of bond proposal) are shrinking,” Glaude said.

For more information about the library system, see www.nols.org.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

More in News

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they offload equipment from the ferry MV Coho after its return to Port Angeles from annual dry dock maintenance in Anacortes on Wednesday. The ferry is scheduled to resume regular service between Port Angeles and Victoria today. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Preparing for service

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they… Continue reading

Dr. Suzanne Ames.
Peninsula College adapting to next generation of students

Aim is to engage, meet workforce needs

Officials: Combine Simdars, Johnson Creek road projects

Clallam County, Sequim, tribe urge coordination

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound Express, is the first vessel to take advantage of the early reopening of the Point Hudson Marina on Wednesday after four months of closure to rebuild its north jetty. The marina will close again after the Wooden Boat Festival ends Sept. 10, when rebuilding the south jetty will start with a scheduled re-opening in March 2024. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Point Hudson marina reopens

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound… Continue reading

Amy Miller has been appointed to a seat on the Port Angeles City Council to fill a seat vacated by Mike French, who resigned to become a Clallam County commissioner. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Amy Miller tapped for Port Angeles City Council

Appointee fills seat vacated by Mike French

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards, will be back in service Thursday. Yearly maintenance began Jan. 3. The maintenance is taking a few days longer due to COVID-19 the past two years, Black Ball Ferry Line officials have said. The ship returns to twice-daily round trips across the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Victoria and Port Angeles at 8:20 a.m. Thursday. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Coho maintenance

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards,… Continue reading

East Jefferson Fire Rescue town halls focus on lid lift

Ballot measure to go before voters on Feb. 14

Planning work priorities to be discussed

Jefferson County’s Board of County Commissioners and its Planning… Continue reading

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim Lawson devote their Sunday to trimming and pruning the Blue Heron orchard at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend, to promote growth and health of the fruit trees, some of which were planted in 2010. The fruit goes to the school and is available to students. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Pruning fruit trees

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim… Continue reading

Most Read