Update on Federal Way Regional Library expansion

By JOHN SHELLER, Federal Way Regional Library site manager

The Federal Way libraries are beginning to reap the benefits of the King County Library System bond approved by voters in 2004.

The Federal Way Regional Library will be expanded later this year to accommodate more books in areas of interest to our users, more space for student homework and group projects, a much-requested quiet area, improved space for children, and greater visibility for our meeting and community spaces. The 320th Street Library will also be redone, with the work there tentatively scheduled to begin in 2011.

I’d like to explain the process and encourage all Federal Way and King County residents to be a part of these exciting projects.

To make the most effective use of bond money, the King County Library System has developed a multi-faceted approach to library expansions. This method is currently being used to plan and implement the Federal Way Regional Library expansion. Key players for each facet include:

• Public library users: Offer input for overall building design; provide financial support to implement.

• KCLS administration: Steward the public funding to its optimal use, oversee contracts and services provided by architects and builders.

• Architectural and planning professionals: Translate library staff and public desires for improvement into physical space that complies with zoning and safety regulations, within funding and library policy parameters.

• Branch library staff: Provide professional input regarding building usage, and library collection, programming and service needs; channel public input into process through observation and analysis of comments and suggestions.

We formally began the public input process in the fall 2007, with Friends of the Federal Way Libraries president Suzanne Bergstrom and Federal Way City Council member Jeanne Burbidge participating in the architect selection.

Prior to that, branch staff members have been taking ongoing public input in the form of suggestions, and some complaints, about the current library size, lack of seating during peak hours, desire for a quiet area, and desire to see increased children’s, teen and large-print book collections.

With staff and public involvement, the Mithun architectural firm was selected to expand the Federal Way Regional Library.

Mithun evaluated the current structure, library property, lighting, heating and air handling, the parking lot, library visibility from First Avenue, and a number of other factors before making a public presentation in October 2007. At that time, building concepts were unveiled that varied from very large “bump outs” of walls for the expansion, to smaller “bumps” involving more walls to spread the growth over a larger area.

Mithun staff compiled public input, along with staff suggestions, and began channeling the conceptual desires through the physical, fiscal and zoning restrictions of the project.

Meanwhile Federal Way branch staff formed a planning team that meets regularly to oversee the work prior to any construction, and to communicate their professional observations and ongoing public input.

Planning is also under way to move staff and operations to the 320th Street Library during construction at the Regional, and to identify community venues for library programs and services beyond 320th.

The result of our efforts to date will be unveiled at a public meeting at the Federal Way Regional Library on at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31. Please come and see Mithun’s design proposals, share your thoughts, and hear the next steps in our expansion project.

This is an exciting time for Federal Way libraries. I encourage you to be a part of it!

John Sheller is site manager for Federal Way Regional Library. Contact:

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