News

Library closure faces a fight

By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

Many local children won’t have anywhere to read or study if the Federal Way Regional Library closes for a year, Federal Way School Board members asserted last week.

The board unanimously voted at a meeting Dec. 11 to pass a resolution asking library officials to maintain services during construction, which begins in June.

School board president Dave Larson, who drafted the resolution, suggested that library officials team with community, city, school and business leaders to continue offering as many services as possible during construction.

The King County Library System is planning to begin a 10,000-square-foot expansion in summer 2008 to reduce congestion at the library at 34200 1st Way South.

The construction is estimated to cost $8.8 million and was made possible by a 2004 library bond. The completed library will measure 35,000 square feet.

If the Federal Way Regional Library closes, the nearest library, at 848 South 320th St., will remain open. The Woodmont Library, just north of Federal Way, is scheduled to reopen in May and will be available during construction.

“We have hundreds of students who use this facility all the time,” Superintendent Tom Murphy has said of the regional library. He recommended at an Oct. 29 meeting with library officials that they stage construction so that the library could remain open.

“It would create a hardship for students if it closed,” Murphy said.

Library officials suggested at that meeting that they were reluctant to keep the library open because of additional costs and safety issues.

Last week, Larson suggested that King County library officials could work with the City of Federal Way, the school district and The Commons mall to continue offering as many services as possible.

Management at The Commons mall has suggested that they might allow reading programs to operate there. And the district could potentially offer the use of some school campuses, including Saghalie and Illahee middle schools, during the evening hours.

Among the services Larson said local students could lose during a closure are checking out books, student reading programs and quiet areas used for study. The library on 320th Street would be overcrowded and insufficient to offer those services for the entire Federal Way community, he said.

Larson forwarded the resolution to Federal Way City Council members and requested that they pass a similar resolution.

Julie Brand Wallace, community relations manager for the King County Library System, said library officials are open to working with the school district and the community to continue providing services.

“We’re doing everything we can to identify some venues that we can do that exact same thing in,” Brand Wallace said. “We would try to provide as much service as we possibly could.”

Brand Wallace cited recent construction of a library in Fall City as an example of a community working together to continue providing library services. During that construction, there was a pickup service offered at a retail space for books ordered on the Internet. Summer reading programs and story times for kids were held at the local firehouse, she said.

“We are looking for some sort of similar arrangement,” she said. “Hopefully there’s something that can take place (in Federal Way), possibly in one of the school locations.”

Federal Way Regional Library is the sixth busiest library in King County with 41,000 individual patrons in October and 61,000 items checked out.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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