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Coupeville celebrates library expansion

Leah Phipps, Coupeville High School and Running Start student attending Skagit Valley College, scans her laptop at the newly renovated Coupeville Public Library.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Leah Phipps, Coupeville High School and Running Start student attending Skagit Valley College, scans her laptop at the newly renovated Coupeville Public Library.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Central Whidbey residents appear to be using all of the extra space that came with the library expansion.

The Coupeville Public Library’s Alexander Street location reopened last month and more people than ever are going through the doors.

Managing Librarian Leslie Franzen said staff is seeing, on average, about 100 more people per day coming into the expanded building since it reopened. Between 400 and 450 people per day have been showing up.

‘It’s just been exciting,” Franzen said.

Many of the patrons are enjoying the new facility.

“This is kind of my place to focus and get everything done,” said Leah Phipps, a Coupeville High School student who is also in Running Start at Skagit Valley College. She was working on her laptop computer and had a stack of textbooks ready to study.

Sitting near Phipps was 14-year-old Sam Landu, who was reading an Iron Man book.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Landu said. “It seems like there’s less books, but I guess there’s more.”

Other people were perusing the selection of books, checking out DVDs, which, with the exception of a Redbox machine at Prairie Center, is the only place in Coupeville to check out movies.

The $2.3 million building was funded by bonds voters approved in 2008. They also approved enlarging the library district to spread out the cost. Those bonds paid for an expansion that more than doubled the size of the library. The 6,000-square-foot building houses computers for patron use, a community meeting space and a collection that includes nearly 25,000 items.

The community meeting room is already popular with residents. Franzen said approximately 30 groups have booked the room, among them the trails council, arts and writers groups and nonprofit organizations, such as the Whidbey Island Conservation District.

Library officials are also quick to point out the environmentally friendly features of the building, including solar panels, energy efficient mechanical systems, natural light and rain gardens.

The first celebration marking the opening of the renovated building has already taken place. Franzen said about 175 people showed up to an event Saturday commemorating the efforts of local volunteer Janet Enzmann. A bronze cat statue created by Georgia Gerber sits in the lobby of the library in honor of the community organizer.

A grand opening and dedication ceremony of the Coupeville Library is scheduled for Saturday, April 17, beginning at 10 a.m., which is the same time the nearby Coupeville Farmer’s Market starts.

The Friends of the Coupeville Library is sponsoring a week-long series of events following the grand opening.

For more information about the grand opening, visit www.sno-isle.org, or call 678-4911.

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