Branch libraries in communities throughout north central Washington will be renovated and modernized through a $10 million multi-year revitalization project announced last week by the North Central Washington Libraries district (NCW Libraries).
The project will upgrade 28 branch libraries to improve interior spaces both functionally and visually. The Twisp branch library in the Methow Valley Community Center will be included in the revitalization project.
The new Winthrop branch library, currently under construction, will not be part of the revitalization project. However, NCW Libraries has been working with Friends of the Winthrop Library, which is overseeing construction of the new facility, to ensure that a portion of the funding for the project will be applied to furniture, fixtures and other allowable costs at the library. The Winthrop Library is on track to be completed in the spring of 2022.
NCW Libraries will partner with cities and other owners of buildings that house the branch libraries to invest funds equitably and to update spaces and add features based on the identified needs and wants of each community. Of the 30 libraries operated by NCW Libraries, 29 are owned by cities and community groups.
Library officials plan to begin meeting with city leaders and building owners this fall and will then start gathering input from library users and community members on what changes they would like to see at their local libraries.
The revitalization project will be done over the next three to five years, in groups of nine or 10 libraries at a time. The work will be funded through a $10 million reserve fund accumulated over several years and set aside by the library district board of trustees for strategic initiatives.
“Modern, accessible libraries are the center pieces of vibrant communities,” said Jill Sheley, a NCW Libraries trustee and Methow Valley resident. “This funding allows our libraries to create spaces that will uniquely fit the needs of each of our branch locations. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, each library can design and build what its own patrons value, ensuring that each library reflects the character of where it lives.”
The project will allow communities to help redesign their local libraries to bring them up to 21st century standards, accommodate a wide range of programs, and provide “community gathering places, centers for creativity and learning,” said Trustee Denise Sorom.
The only library facility owned by the district — Wenatchee Public Library — recently underwent an extensive remodel and will not be included in this $10 million project. However, the Wenatchee Library recently received a $798,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce for a second phase of work that will include creation of a teen area and a coffee bar.
NCW Libraries has provided library services in Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Grant, and Okanogan Counties since 1960. In addition to its 30 branch libraries, the district operates two bookmobiles, provides mail order service, digital collections and online resources.