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Islanders have a chance to weigh in on the Vashon Library expansion
The Vashon Public Library is at an important crossroads, and we, the people of Vashon Island, will have a say in which way it goes. Will it take the path towards becoming a warm, beautiful, efficient beacon for those of us with needs for information and entertainment? Or will it take another path and become a cold place, a spot to go to only when one can’t find one’s books or videos or other needs someplace else?
In 2004, voters approved a $172 million bond for building and renovating libraries in the King County Library System (KCLS); $6 million of that has been allocated for the expansion of Vashon Library.
What should this expansion provide? What should it look like? The next few weeks will give us the opportunity to voice our suggestions about our new, expanded library.
That’s where you come in.
You need to think about how the library should grow. How do you and your family use it now, and how would you like to use it in the future? What do you want?
I can tell you what I want: I want more computers in their own enclosed space, more books and plenty of room for them, a larger space for public meetings, a children’s department that is somewhat separate from the rest of the library, large windows to give a view of Ober Park, a local history area, a larger homework area and a larger and safer parking lot. And it should all be embellished with works by local artists.
About my wish for more computers: A recent study by the University of Washington Information School found that the use of library computers is critical for people searching for jobs, seeking health information, doing homework, gaining access to government agencies, banking, communicating with friends and family and completing online courses.
For me, a retired reference and local history librarian, information-gathering is high on my list of what a library should offer — and these days that means many books and many computers.
Vashon Island residents have always supported their library, whether with votes for bond elections or volunteer hours. Now it is time to support the library in another way — with your thoughts and ideas and a little bit of your time.
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, Islanders are invited to attend a meeting of the Vashon Park District board to make known opinions about the library. At 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15, KCLS is holding an open house to let Islanders meet the architect of the library expansion, see possible designs and voice our ideas and suggestions. Both meetings take place in the park department building in Ober Park.
Over the past couple of years, distrust has built up between many people on Vashon and KCLS, probably with just cause. Now we are being invited to participate in the design process. Will KCLS listen to us? Will any elements be added or subtracted from the proposed building because of what we want? Will Vashon get a library that truly reflects the wants and needs of this Island?
The only way we can find out is by attending these meetings and providing thought-out suggestions.
So think: What do you want? What does having a free public library mean in your life and the lives of your family and friends?
— Arlene Hess is a member of the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council’s committee on the library.
If you love libraries, don’t miss this crucial opportunity to make your opinions known. Attend the meetings at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, or 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15. Both are at Ober Park.