The results are in and a portion of Sequim puts a new library as a priority.
Data comes from a recent survey by the North Olympic Library System which received 339 responses (about 1 percent of the county) online or in the library.
Paula Barnes, executive director of the North Olympic Library Systems, said she was reassured by Dawn Couch, a policy analyst with BERK Consulting, that the turnout was good.
“I was initially concerned it was small but Dawn has vast experience with this and the results were very usable,” Barnes said.
“It’s likely we’ll do one more survey online and in-house about space and going forward (with a new building).”
As part of the finding’s process, Kevin Kane, lead architect for SHKS Architects, and Couch spoke to a crowd of about 20 people on Sept. 26 in the library.
Couch said the survey revealed most responders’ average age is 64, they used the library in the past year, 83 percent don’t have children and 98 percent vote.
Their top priorities were collections (39 percent) and expanded space (27 percent) with requests for more quiet space and ease of access. Of those who have used the library, 92 percent used it for books and materials, 40 percent to read or browse, 30 percent use staff assistance, 27 percent for computers, 22 percent for meeting space and 22 percent for programs.
Space an issue?
Couch said only a few of those surveyed specifically found a larger library unnecessary.
Instead, they encouraged the library to invest in collections and use space in the community for storage and meetings. Some users found current library space adequate. Others accounted for incoming digital resources, Couch said, which could mean less space is needed.
A few other comments encouraged no new taxes and said the economy remains bad.
If NOLS were to go forward with a new library proposal, Barnes said the board of trustees had two initial recommendations — create a 30-year building and a Library Capital Facilities Area (likely the Sequim School District) as a taxing district fo r a bond issue to help pay for the new facility.
Barnes said they also had early discussions with the City of Sequim and Sequim School District, which are building or looking into new facilities, too. “We made an agreement to stay on our own paths but stay in close communication if an opportunity to partner came up,” she said.
Sequim’s Library’s space isn’t up to par compared to newer libraries, Kane said.
When looking into new space for libraries, libraries customarily have 0.5 square feet per person. Sequim has 0.2 square feet in its 6,000-square-foot building for about 29,700 people.
Initial designs by SHKS Architects show incrementally larger facilities on the Sequim site expanding westward toward Sequim Avenue but retaining a driving path to the south, with most or all of the parking to the east, where a gravel parking area and Friends of the Library book sales take place.
Barnes said going toward the road puts the library in line with the City of Sequim’s comprehensive plan to put structures closer to the street.
Library trustees previously expressed interest in keeping the library on site rather that accruing new costs with a new site. (SHKS estimates building minimum and maximum from 15,850-18,450 square feet for a new building to fit.)
If Sequim’s population reached 34,300, then a 17,150-square-foot building would suffice to meet the half-a-square-foot standard. At that amount, space would allow for 78 of 61 required parking spaces, which could change depending on the building size.
Things inside could adapt, Kane said, and the future of e-books and libraries’ role in them is still to be determined.
“Everyone knows libraries aren’t just warehouses for books,” he said. “Book circulation is still quite high.”
SHKS Architects presents its preliminary report in November with a final report expected in December. If NOLS board of trustees does decide to go forward with proposing a new ballot, the library district and new building would tentatively go on the ballot in August 2015.
See nols.org or call 683-1161.