Housing versus library | Letter

Some islanders wonder about building a new library while the island has an affordable housing issue, but affordable housing and an expanded library serve the same island families in different ways. Low to middle-income families need after-school youth programs in safe spaces; books, movies, and audio to check out instead of purchase; and free access to technology and technology instruction. What seems like standard technology to own nowadays is out of reach for many who cannot afford home computers or internet service, including seniors living on limited incomes. The Library provides these. The Library also loans out adaptive equipment for those with mobility, vision, and hearing difficulties, Discover Passes to state parks, birdwatching kits with binoculars, a telescope, glasses for colorblindness—items whose costs would be too prohibitive for many.

But the Library is out of space and thus limited in what it can offer. Our population has grown 50% since 1995, but the Library has not. It is not possible to expand either upwards or outwards, and current parking is dangerous and insufficient to meet demand. The building’s infrastructure is out of date and limits services. Program space is too small to accommodate all who come to programs, forcing library programs offsite. The library is a noisy place without protected quiet retreats, and the teen and children’s areas are far too cramped. There are no study rooms for online interviews, small collaborative groups, or quiet study space.

Please Vote Yes on SJI Library District Proposition

Laurie Olsen,

San Juan Island