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Vashon Library construction booking along

Librarian Jan Riley, left, and project superintendent Greg Nelson, right, say library construction is going well and the library is on track to open by March of 2014. - Natalie Martin/Staff Photo
Librarian Jan Riley, left, and project superintendent Greg Nelson, right, say library construction is going well and the library is on track to open by March of 2014.
— image credit: Natalie Martin/Staff Photo

Nine months into its year-long renovation process, the small Vashon Library has been transformed into an expansive structure that includes a wall of west-facing windows, a glass-walled conference room and a green roof set to be installed this week.

On a recent tour of the facility, Jan Riley, the library’s operations supervisor, walked a small group through the expanded building, now fully framed and ready for drywall. The space is on track to be completed this winter, Riley said, and noted that the staff is looking forward to leaving its temporary location and returning to the renovated space.

“We just can’t wait to come back,” she said.

Walking amidst the construction equipment, Riley noted special features of the new facility, which she said will have more of a “tech feel” than the previous library, and will include a cyber bar — a long counter in front of the windows where people can plug in their laptops and other electronic devices and work looking out at a large landscaped area in front of the building.

“I think that is going to be a big hit,” she said.

Other features she pointed out as highlights of the remodeled library — some 3,400 square feet larger than the former space — include the conference room, a children’s section with windows overlooking Ober Park and a large open space that will be filled with ample places to sit. The building, with few interior walls and a long wall of windows, will feel expansive compared to the former library.

“You are going to get a real open feel here,” Riley said.

There will be both more books and more elbow room, she noted, but she is not certain yet if more computers will be added.

Greg Nelson, the superintendent of the project with Beisley Construction, said that all new electrical and plumbing systems and a heating and cooling system have been installed throughout the building.

Behind the library, the contractor also installed a panel that will enable Vashon Island Fire & Rescue to connect a generator and create a community shelter at the library in the case of an island-wide emergency. Funds for this feature, Riley said, came from money that was gifted to the library and not from the funds allocated by the passage of a 2004 bond measure.

The Vashon Library’s remodel is just one of 10 capital projects the King County Library System (KCLS) is currently working on throughout its 43-library system, and a central tenet of the projects is to build as environmentally friendly as possible, while being fiscally responsible, according to the KCLS website.

Greg Smith, the KCLS director of facilities, said that while the building will not be LEED-certified — the gold standard of environmental building — it includes many green features, most notably the green roof planned for the new portion of the building. Such a roof, with plants to absorb storm water rather than turning it into runoff, is an important feature that a few KCLS libraries share. While not very visible from the street, the green roof should be visible from the park, he said.

Additional green features, Smith said, include energy-efficient plumbing and lighting fixtures, daylight harvesting through an abundance of windows and  rooftop light monitors, as well as enhanced insulation in the existing building.

Library users who like to walk between the park and the library will be especially happy to learn that the drainage problems in that area are being addressed with both drains and a new pathway, Nelson said. Previously, the area between the park and library was extremely wet and muddy several months out of the year.

The construction has gone well, with no surprises along the way, Smith said. The $6 million project is on budget, and KCLS officials expect the library will be able to move from its temporary location to the new building in late February or early March.

Riley noted when the move occurs, the library will be closed for a week, but it will open with fanfare.

“We will have a party,” she said.

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