Submitted by San Juan Island Library
San Juan Island may have a new library building in its future. At its June 12 meeting, the San Juan Island Library Board of Trustees decided to explore plans to construct a new building, at a site yet to be selected. This determination was made following three years of study and public input, including a recent series of open houses during which community members were invited to indicate their preferred alternative between the expansion of the present building, construction of a new building and keeping the library as is.
“It was pretty clear from the data collected that community members were most supportive of the option to build a new library,” said San Juan Island Library Director Laurie Orton.
Of the 134 people who indicated their preferences at the open houses and in subsequent surveys, 75 percent chose a new building, versus 23 percent who chose expansion of the current structure.
“Taking into account the challenges posed by the current structure and that the cost for expanding and retrofitting an older building costs nearly as much as creating a new, carefully planned library from the ground up, it’s not surprising that people chose the new building option,” said Orton.
The top three problems community members identified with the current building included inadequate and difficult parking, growth restrictions on the library’s various materials collections and the need for larger meeting and program spaces for events, as attendance has outstripped capacity over the years. Additional high priorities included a more energy efficient, cost-saving building infrastructure, improved areas for teens and children and more quiet reading spaces and computers.
“We are excited about the possibilities of a new, modern library,” said Orton, “but we still have a long way to go on this project.”
Remaining projects include site selection and acquisition, funding, design and construction. The community will be involved in every step of the process.