the next chapter
orcas island library expansion project
the need for a library expansion
In 1991, we raised money to build the current, beautiful building. This much-loved library serves more than 2500 Islanders of all ages each week. But our library has outgrown its space. We need more room for people, books, and technology.
- The number of library cards has increased 86%, to nearly 6000.
- Our library collection has increased 45%, to nearly 45,000 items, and our annual checkouts have increased by about 50%.
- The on-site programs and classes patrons enjoy number more than 250 annually, attended by more than 4300.
- Our library is open 30% more hours than in 1995. And our annual visits have increased by 80% in the last ten years alone!
- In response to requests for access to computers, the library has added eleven computers, but the computers have created congestion in the center aisle.
- Did you know that 80% of Americans connect to the internet, over half of them daily? Limited people and technology space means that those who want internet (wifi) connection must use the parking lot, outside benches, lobby, meeting room, and quiet reading area to connect to the wifi.
- Our quiet reading area is not very quiet, and it is much too small!
- Our Young Adult section is only 126 square feet, inadequate to meet the needs our young adult patrons.
- Patrons have difficulty finding spaces for studying, tutoring, and working in small groups.
Patrons consistently ask for more materials, but there is no room. For every book that comes in, one must go out. Ouch!
the planned response: Create more room for learning and fun!
Through surveys and focus groups, users have asked for technologically sophisticated, energy-efficient spaces that harmonize with the existing facility, meet current and future needs, and minimally disrupt library services during construction.
The expansion will:
- create more room for people, books, and technology
- increase space for the Young Adult section
- increase space for laptop and public computers users
- relocate computers from the center aisle
- add more worktables
- create quiet reading areas
- create up to four small-group study and meeting rooms
- improve shelving
- provide an additional family-friendly restroom
- increase space for magazines and newspapers
- create an additional office and storage space
- create more communal spaces, including where Orcas Island community organizations can meet with the public
about the library
The Orcas Island Public Library is the social, cultural, intellectual hub of Orcas Island. Open seven days per week, it serves as the sole democratic, nonpartisan, free institution available to all under one roof. The Library is both a trusted source of information and a safe place. It empowers users to be change agents in your lives. It allows users to be more meaningfully engaged in the community, and supports Islanders in staying on Orcas Island to raise their families and age gracefully.
A Bit of History
Orcas Islanders love books! In 1949 the community began collecting and sharing books in post offices and stores. When the number of books quickly grew too large, they built a library on Main Street, raising money through teas, hobby shows, donations, and the very first Library Fair in 1956. The Main Street Library was dedicated in 1956, but thirty years later the community had outgrown that space, too. So in 1987, Islanders approved the formation of a tax-supported library district. And in 1991, the current Rose Street property was purchased, and fundraising began to build the library building, which was dedicated in February, 1993.
- The Library has ranked in the top five public libraries in Washington, per capita, for checkouts, cardholders, open hours, visits, and collection size for the past several years. It also recently ranked first in the state for volunteer hours per capita.
- The Library is a leader in information-sharing, literacy, and early-learning programs that prepare children for school.
- Although the Library sees much use by adults, children account for more than a quarter of the checkouts, and for a similar proportion of programs.
- Through its partnerships, the Library offers direct services to the Senior Center and the Longhouse, as well as to all schools and preschools, including visits by librarians to those locations.
- The Library collaborates on a frequent basis with island nonprofits, including the Funhouse Commons and the Orcas Island Community Foundation, to offer literacy and other services and programs.
- The Library offers reciprocal library cards with the Lopez Island and San Juan Island libraries.